Residents speak out against landfill

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2005

GREENE COUNTY – According to the residents’ attorney, Thomas R. Jones Jr. of Wiggins, Jones, Parsons and Fisher in Tuscaloosa, if the Greene County Commission wants to obey the law, they can’t permit a landfill until there is a current solid waste management plan.

“In order for the county to give approval a solid waste management plan must be in place,” Jones said at Monday night’s meeting. “Greene County had a solid waste plan in place in 1995 but as of August 2, 2005 the plan has expired.”

According to Jones, the Alabama state law says unless the county has a plan, there is no legal authority to grant landfill.

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Jones also said he has been in contact with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or ADEM, and was told once a proposal is sent to the office, it is then compared with the state requirements and if they agree with the requirements, a landfill grant is permitted.

“ADEM doesn’t monitor the interest of the community, they are just there to make sure it complies with the state requirements,” Jones said. “We need to stop this before it gets to ADEM.”

York resident, Kaye Kiker also talked to residents about landfill facts.

“These sites are in poor communities,” Kiker said. “It’s environmental racism.”

In a conversation with local newspapers Monday Greene County Commission Chairman Chip Beeker addressed accusations of environmental racism by saying he was neither in favor nor opposed to a landfill. Beeker said he simply wanted to do what was best for the county as a whole.

“I took an oath to serve everyone,” Beeker said. “I took an oath to serve the large landowners as well as the people making minimum wage. I took an oath to serve everyone.”

Kiker said she has traveled the country to help fight landfills and show the citizens how to be empowered because there isn’t enough democracy in today’s government.

“All dumps leak, even with those liner systems and 1,000 acres is just the beginning,” she told residents. “You will be a better community without it and you will be more empowered and more skilled citizens by fighting it. Then you will be able to fight for better roads, better school systems and whatever else you need.”

Although commissioners William L. Johnson and Donald F. Means, attended the meeting with Greene County residents at the Score building, Chris Beeker, Jr. and other commissioners did not make an appearance.

“I found out about it the day before we were supposed to vote and I voted no because I wasn’t going to vote on something I didn’t know about,” Johnson said. “And after I found out what they were going to do, I still said no.”

According to Johnson, the commission is not going to talk about the landfill and the lack of a solid waste management plan because some commissioners are “trying to get over” on the residents.

“They never talked to us about a plan. But I stand for what’s right. You all need to talk to the commissioners who want this landfill and the chairman real strong,” Johnson said. “You all are good people, but good people finish last if they don’t get off their butts and do something,” he told the residents.

According to Means, people are smart and will begin to ask him questions if he allows a landfill to come to Green County.

“When I go out of the county, I tell people how beautiful Greene County is and I talk about hunting whitetails, catching fish and the civil rights trail,” he said. “But if this thing comes here, people are going to ask ‘Why did you let a landfill come to your area?’ I’m here for the community.”

Although the two commissioners admitted they have had sleepless nights for years, they told the residents they shouldn’t have them as well.

“Pressure will burst any pipe so you have to continuously call them,” Means said. “Why should they enjoy their sleep if you can’t get yours?”

Jones also read a letter he plans to send to the commission asking them to postpone the November 14 meeting and any other landfill discussion until “there has been full compliance with the law.”

He asked the commission to consider holding meetings at a time when working residents can attend.

“This hearing is set for 9 a.m., a time when most residents can make it. ADEM says the public input is required and when the public has questions, the commission has to answer them in writing before they take any steps,” Jones said. “You have been denied the opportunity to even prevent any possibility of a landfill.”

To be involved in Greene County landfill prevention, contact co-chair Jack Lang at (205) 373-8757 or (205) 399-9836 or co-chair Eddie Cross at (205) 372-2163.

“I’m not stopping this landfill forever,” Jones said. “But the point is they can’t do it unless they do it right.”

Thought the landfill is not the most desirable source of revenue and jobs for Greene County it is a realistic one. If the landfill was licensed by ADEM and approved by the Commission it would bring in an estimated $300,000 to $500,000 per year and add several jobs according to Beeker.