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Landfill proposal has a bad stench

It is not often when we say our community should walk away from a company that is willing to make a multi-million dollar investment in our region.

But when the company involved is looking to reopen the Crossridge Landfill, it’s the right thing to do.

And, because of that, the Jefferson County Health Board is to be commended for unanimously voting Tuesday to oppose the potential efforts of Greenway Reclamation to reopen the facility.

Crossridge has been a problem for county and state officials for many years now. Sitting off of Fernwood Road, the facility remains the subject of ongoing litigation concerning the lack of proper closure and alleged violations of environmental regulations. In addition to the millions of dollars it would cost to properly cap and shut down the solid waste section of the landfill, another troubling issue was discovered several months ago — as much as 88,000 gallons a month of untreated leachate — water that passes through buried garbage — was being dumped over a hillside near Cross Creek.

The problems concerning Crossridge are real. Estimates are that it would cost $100,000 an acre to close the landfill and another $50,000 an acre to monitor the closure for the next 30 years. And, according to Nicole Balakos, the county’s health commissioner, there are nearly 60 acres that were permitted at one time. Plus, there are $23 million in penalties against the landfill owed to the state and numerous liens that have been filed by businesses against the facility.

Satisfying all of that would be an expensive proposition, especially since the landfill’s former owner did not have a bond to guarantee the closure.

Faced with that potential cost, the Ohio EPA arranged a meeting with representatives of the Garden City, N.Y.-based Greenway, the health department and representatives with the JB Green Team, the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District and the city and county to discuss a potential plan that would allow corrections to be made and the facility to be opened to accept baled solid waste from out of state.

That meeting was held behind closed doors on Nov. 13. Our position is that it should have been open to members of the public and the media, but that’s another argument for another time.

According to the OEPA, Greenway has yet to make an application regarding any plans to reopen the landfill. And, there’s no doubt the offer would be enticing to regulators — approve the permits for an environmental cleanup of the site in exchange for allowing a large amount of out-of-state trash to be dumped there.

But the issues that come along with that would be many — there are concerns about the health effects that can be traced to such facilities, obnoxious odors and increased truck traffic, among others. Plus, because the landfill sits so close to the Jefferson County Airpark, there are real concerns that jet airplane traffic into and out of the facility would have to be severely restricted or eliminated, because planes and the birds that are attracted to landfills don’t mix well — and the confrontations can prove deadly.

Opposition to the proposal has come swiftly and from many different corners.

Tuesday’s meeting attracted a standing-room-only crowd that cheered when members of the health board voted against the plan.

Sadly, all of that opposition, all of the concerns, all of the discussion might not matter at all — the OEPA could disregard the views of area residents and issue the permits.

That would be a terrible mistake on the part of the bureaucrats in Columbus.

We all agree that action is needed to address the issues at Crossridge. Reopening it to out-of-state trash, however, is not a good plan, no matter how much money it would bring into our area, no matter how much easier it would make things for the OEPA.

And it all means that the best course of action, for now, is to say no to reopening the Crossridge Landfill.

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