We don’t need to be Florida’s dump

Published 7:18 am Friday, August 10, 2012

Dear Editor,

Our landfill is not a dump! A few years ago, we invested in land down U.S. Highway 27 to take the garbage generated in all the cities and unincorporated areas of Decatur County. That was the responsible thing to do. It was put in a location requiring a long drive from Bainbridge and the other areas not in the southern part of the county. Nevertheless, we built a place to dispose our garbage.

I can remember when Bainbridge dumped garbage near Oak City Cemetery on the river bank. Then, later it was dumped at the end of Shotwell Street, where the skating rink and motel are now. The garbage later had to be dug up and hauled away to the landfill on State Route 309, and that landfill was filled up quickly.

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Decatur County has played its part responsibly in providing a place for the garbage generated by its homes and businesses. Decatur County residents have been responsible citizens of the planet when it comes to caring for the environment. We do not need to digress.

Tallahassee and Leon County, Florida, want to send their garbage somewhere beyond their local areas. They want to dump their garbage on us, and in the landfill we built to take care of our refuse. Does this not sound familiar? This is one neighbor throwing its garbage over the line, onto his neighbor to deal with.

Our landfill is what is defined as a “Sub-Title D Landfill.” It is permitted to accept household municipal waste (garbage). It must be managed in a manner to remain compliant with environmental rules. It must be managed to contain the leachate that comes from deep inside the mound of rotting garbage. The leachate seeping and escaping from our landfill is contained on site and pumped into a tank, where it is taken to the treatment plant and eventually cleaned up and discharged into the waterway.

Tallahassee and Leon County residents have put the “heat” on their commissioners and councilmen to the point where they no longer want to take care of the garbage they generate. They do not want the leachate escaping and running into their waterways. Instead, they demand their garbage leave the city and the county and go somewhere else … like Decatur County, Georgia!

Decatur County is not in the landfill business! It does not have the expertise to be in the landfill business at anywhere near the level of the garbage that Tallahassee and Leon County want to bring in. The amount of garbage they want to bring in will be double the amount we are already dumping down there. The trucks going in and out and onto Highway 27 will more than double. The amount of mud carried out onto the highway on rainy days will more than double. The amount of space needed to bury their trash will more than double. For every truckload of Tallahassee garbage dumped, space will be taken up where our own garbage cannot go.

Our county commissioners cannot imagine what will happen when that added amount of garbage rolls in. The weigh-in line at the scales will double, the weigh-out line at the scales will double, the compaction will double, the congestion that already exists at the tipping point will double, trucks meeting on the makeshift road going up to the dump site will double, and so on. Then, just consider the horror of a breakdown!

When something breaks down at the landfill, garbage trucks do not stop collecting garbage. Do you really believe truck drivers can be called and told to, “Hold up, the landfill is having a big hiccup and we will get back and tell you when to continue picking up garbage”?

The garbage business is the most mobile business you can imagine. It is always in motion. It moves like the tide, from the kitchen to the curb to the truck to the dump site and back, over and over again. Once a landfill is opened, the garbage keeps coming and coming … oceans of garbage. If you get behind one day, you have to scramble twice as hard the next day. If you get behind the second day, it will push you on into the third day, and then that is “doomsday!” Doomsday is the day you cut corners, ignore regulations, “just dump it over here and we will get back to it later,” shorten up on compaction, get careless with covering, pass over routine maintenance, and go beyond the point of no return.

If these county commissioners agree to take this garbage, it will be another huge mistake and we will be the ones who continue to pay for their mistakes. We are not prepared, we are not capable, and we are not making the best use of our county’s resources.

Tell your county commissioner to tell Tallahassee and Leon County to dig themselves a hole in the ground and begin dumping their own garbage in it.

Paul Fairclothe