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Why a proposed landfill has community members up in arms: 'I don't appreciate it'

Why a proposed landfill has community members up in arms: 'I don't appreciate it'
Posted at 11:31 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 00:37:27-04

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Va. -- Pushback is being felt against a potential landfill that would be in Cumberland County and would border Powhatan.

A room full of Cumberland community members came out to a Thursday night meeting to hear about the process for site approval.

The proposed Green Ridge Recycling and disposal facility would be just off of Route 60.

The Department of Environmental Quality brought all agencies involved together to explain the next steps to residents.

The county's board of supervisors approved a rezoning request and host agreement for the landfill in 2018. Documents showed the landfill would bring in between $1.3 to $2.7 million annually for the county.

However, these numbers alone don’t mean that the landfill it’s a done deal.

Renee Hoyos, the Director of Environmental Justice DEQ, said that it is still very early in the process.

The Department of Environmental Quality has an extensive process to review a handful of environmental permits. These include water protection, solid waste, pollution discharge, stormwater and emissions.

Public hearings are held for each permit before a final decision is made.

“It could be years or it could be months,” Hoyos said.

Those attending Thursday night's forum expressed concerns about the needs of the facility and the potential impacts it could have on their community.

“I have a dump coming across the street from me. I don’t appreciate it," one community member said during the meeting.

Others mentioned their concerns about contaminated wells, long-term health effects and the potential location being in a historical area.

“I don’t think there is anyone who would want a landfill in their community, do you?” Muriell Branch said, eliciting a round of applause from other attendees.

The DEQ said it reviews those factors as part of the permit process.

CBS6 asked the landfill spokesperson how they plan to address the communities concerns. Spokesperson Jay Smith said the landfill industry is one of the most regulated in the country.

“We welcome that and are working closely with them to ensure this facility is not only just safe for them but the entire environment,” he said.

Smith said the company is evaluating and making changes each time they hear feedback.

The company also noted in their research that the proposed site location has an 81% white population in a four miles radius of the proposed facility, saying the median household income proposed area is over the state average.

They noted they are ready to be community partners and give back in various ways.

Despite these reassurances, many citizens at Thursday night's meeting made sure to express that they still have concerns.

“The board members need to listen to the citizens,” they said.

The process for the permits is currently underway. The DEQ said they commit to engaging with the community. They also noted at the meeting that the board of supervisors has the ability to put a plug in the process at any time.