Despite two public forums held in Jackson County and hundreds of letters, emails, and calls to DEP, legislators, and local officers, it appears DEP is still considering the granting of a permit that would allow Waste Management to dig in Jackson County for disposal of leachate. In the two public forums held, opposition has been strong against DEP granting the permit, more so when it was made public that Waste Management now brings in waste from numerous other counties.
Senator George Gainer spoke with the TIMES this past week in response to information that the DEP had already granted the permit, “I am very frustrated that the decision had already been made on the permitting prior to the meeting for it to have been made that quickly and I thought the purpose of the DEP was to protect the environment but it appears this process was on a fast track from the beginning without proper notice to the public. I am not giving up on this issue because I believe it is environmentally unfriendly and the people of Jackson County should not bear the risk of disposing of the county’s wastes.” Later, the DEP tabled the matter until sometime this week.
In a letter from Senator Gainer sent to Interim Secretary Ryan Matthews of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Gainer says, “I write today to voice my strong opposition to the Department issuing a permit to Waste Management allowing the company to install a deep injection disposal well at the Springhill Landfill in Jackson County.
After meeting with many of my constituents in Jackson County, I share their deep concerns that the disposal well could not only impact our water supply, but question if this well is even needed at all.
Waste Management has said, if permitted, it has future plans to dispose of leachate water using the deep well. At a recent public hearing, it was disclosed that there is more than adequate capacity at existing locations to dispose of the leachate. It is clear that a new deep injection disposal well is not needed. For that very reason, the permit request should be denied.
I also have serious issues that disposal of the leachate water in a new well could cause contamination to seep into the Upper Floridan aquifer, which is the source of drinking water for most of the state. The risk is just too great.
In addition, I am deeply concerned with the number of inconsistencies in the presentation made before the citizens of Jackson County. I am also troubled by the entire process.
I cannot stress enough my total opposition to this permit being issued.
Before any final decision is made, I would expect the Department to brief me on the findings of your review.”
Gainer also spoke in opposition to the permit at the county commission meeting’s public forum held at their regularly scheduled meeting.
Jackson County Times spoke Jackson County Administrator Ernie Padgett Wednesday morning. Padgett said, “The last we heard that they were going to issue the permit last week and Senator Gainer corresponded with DEP. At that time, they delayed that till the end of this week. It seems like DEP has decided to issue the permit. All five commissioners opposed this individually and collectively. Even if the permit is issued, we have to get some legal and technical advice on if the county could, after the permit is issued for the test well, which is in fact is the well, it’s a $5 million well they are putting in, once they are permitted they’re going to be using it from now on. We have to see if there is any way we can restrict the volume of the leachate as to what is being produced right here in Jackson County and prevent them from bringing in what is produced in other counties and brought into Jackson County for disposal. I can say this, if the board of county commissioners had the right to override the state, they would have already overridden the state but we don’t have that authority so we are going to lessen the impact as much as we can.
The TIMES will update the status of the permit as soon as it is made available.