Room for unity on landfill issue

To the editor:

I have been watching events unfold following news that a private company has interest in re-opening and operating the scandal-ridden Crossridge Landfill.

It began with a social media post by an official with the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District, stating the county board of health was about to fast-track a vote to approve Greenway Reclamation’s plan to bring East Coast garbage into a local site already plagued by environmental problems that would take millions of dollars to remediate, money which the current owner says he doesn’t have. I don’t doubt the good intentions, but the post contained information that was easily misinterpreted and sent residents into a panic over the prospect of an environmental nightmare returning to their backyard.

Their misconceptions ranged from thinking a new landfill would locate right in Steubenville to a conspiracy by the health board to hold an immediate vote for approval. People were ready to storm the health department meeting in hopes of drawing the process to a halt. I watched it unfold, and, based on my experience observing and reporting on the original Crossridge controversy, I sought to help people better understand what could be happening.

One does not have to be an official to know the local health board does not grant permits for these facilities, or know that Ohio EPA does not offer up a permit for a landfill overnight. But these events point to a bigger issue. What has happened to how we view local problems and who do we look to for guidance? Our county has seen the advent of dedicated people who call themselves “transplants.” They have taken leadership roles and stepped into positions of power and say they want to better their new community. Admirable, except something has been missing for the “natives.”

There is a divide, and this latest issue is a clear example of that. When I saw the social media outrage brewing over this new landfill threat, I was surprised because much of it was coming from political conservatives who had previously remained silent on our county’s environmental issues, like the leachate runoff discovered at Crossridge and the ongoing suffering of residents living near Jefferson County’s actual operating landfill, Apex.

Still, I agree wholeheartedly with their cause and figured now was a good time to join the fight to keep us from once again becoming an East Coast garbage dumping ground. I offered information to the transplants that their efforts would be enhanced by studying Crossridge history, and by contacting the dedicated members of the former Citizens Vigilance Committee, who led the original charge against Crossridge. Instead they chose to join an anti-landfill group in Fostoria, which is their prerogative. I believe we could make inroads on progress in our community if those transplanted community leaders could reach out to the natives and avail themselves of their history and experience.

The ball’s in your court because you’re the ones in power. If you truly want unity instead of inadvertent division, it’s worth a shot.

Marjie DeFede



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