Perry leaders push landfill

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The Perry County Commission took a giant step toward approval of a new landfill Tuesday by approving a solid waste plan at its regular meeting. The vote was unanimous.

The plan now goes to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for final approval.

“The law requires every county to have a solid waste management plan,” explained state Sen. Hank Sanders, who is also the attorney for Perry County.

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The Perry County Solid Waste Plan approved by the commission includes provisions for a landfill to be located four miles south of Uniontown.

Chairman Johnny Flowers said the commission still must take a separate vote on whether to approve the proposed landfill.

“Once we get the solid waste plan approved by the state we will hold a public hearing in Uniontown,” Flowers said. “Then we’ll take a vote on the landfill and it will be up to ADEM to give its final approval.”

Plans for a landfill in Perry County, which has no actively operating landfill, have been in the works for more than a decade. Currently the county pays as much as $38 a ton, plus shipping costs, to have its garbage buried elsewhere. The proposed landfill has been touted as a way not only to reduce those costs, but to act as a source of revenue for the county by accepting garbage from outside the county.

But local opposition to a landfill has been strong. A previous public hearing in Uniontown drew a surprisingly large number of residents, most of whom expressed opposition to any landfill. Most cited concerns about possible pollution and plans for the proposed landfill to encompass a service area of 16 states, including Alabama.

Flowers said the commission had “deleted” any reference to the 15 states other than Alabama in the solid waste plan it adopted Tuesday. But Sprott resident William Otha Hopper isn’t so sure. He fears the commission may be attempting to throw Uniontown residents a “curve ball.”

“Their new landfill plan presented to ADEM may say it is only for this county,” Hopper states in a letter he planned to present to the commissioners. “And the people of Uniontown, believing that, would relax, and take no legal action, believing that they might live with that small landfill. Then, when the time for legal action had passed, the commission would update its previous action, now including the original 16 states.”

Flowers emphasized that any objection to the project must be based upon more than merely personal opposition to a landfill.

“The idea that somebody don’t want something don’t work,” Flowers said. “Something has to be wrong with the plans. There has to be some technical flaw. Garbage must be disposed of. The problem is everybody wants to generate garbage, but nobody wants to dispose of it.”

Flowers said that while he sympathizes with residents’ concerns, he believes those concerns have been addressed and that it is time to move on. “Choctaw County started their landfill project a year ago and they’re putting garbage in that hole today,” he said.