Local News

N.C. Could Soon Be Dumping Ground For More Trash

Posted May 9, 2005

— North Carolina may soon earn a dubious distinction: one of the leading importers of trash in the country.

Trash from states along the eastern seaboard could be headed to Camden County in the northeast portion of the state.

"It's going to be a mountain of trash," said John Thompson, who opposed the proposed landfill. "I personally believe that this is an environmental disaster waiting to happen and the Dismal Swamp is going to pay the price for it. Once the water becomes contaminated, it will always be there forever."

Camden County is not an isolated case. Right now, there are landfills proposed in at least four counties in North Carolina. If they're all approved, North Carolina would become the fourth largest importer of solid waste in the nation.

State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, sits on the Environmental Review Commission. She said the state has the potential of becoming a dumping ground.

"I would say that probably 99 percent of the people don't know that this is about to happen," she said.

The decision about having a landfill is largely up to the local counties. In Brunswick County, the little town of Navassa stands to gain up to $1 million a year from the landfill there.

"We will be able to provide sewer to probably one-half of the town. Right now, we have half of the town that doesn't have sewer or water," said Navassa Mayor Eulis Willis. "We don't really have much of a choice."

Opponents said the Brunswick County landfill will be seen from the Wilmington waterfront. Camden County could eventually earn up to $4 million a year from its landfill.

Paul Crissman, who is part of the state team that approves and denies landfills, said he does not believe landfills would be risky for the environment.

"They're risky if they're not under control and we believe we have them under control," he said. "Our track record is real good. It really is."

"That's a nice thing to say that we will work very hard to make sure all the regulations are met, but you can't stop people from putting toxic waste into landfills. That's not possible," Kinnaird said.

According to the North Carolina Division of Waste Management, decisions on whether to allow the Camden and Brunswick County landfills could come within a couple of months. Landfills in Columbus and Hyde counties are still in the early stages of review and could take longer.

Just how much trash do North Carolinians send to the landfills? Back in 1991-92, North Carolinians sent over 6 million tons of trash to the landfills. Ten years later, residents sent nearly 10 million tons. At its current rate, analysts predict North Carolina could throw away 13 million tons of trash each year by 2010.

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