Raleigh, N.C. — A controversial proposal to loosen the rules for landfills in North Carolina is headed for the House after receiving final Senate approval Monday night.
Senate Bill 328 would allow landfills to be built within 1,500 feet of national wildlife refuges, state parks and game lands. Current law requires a distance of 5 miles from refuges, 2 miles from state parks and 1 mile from game lands.
The bill also allows faster permitting and longer permits (up to 30 years), relaxes regulations on landfill operators and drastically limits the reasons in law for which the Department of Environment and Natural Resources can refuse to issue a permit for a new landfill.
Garbage trucks would no longer be required to be leak-proof, just leak-resistant.
The Senate approved an amendment by Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, to give the military a method to object to proposed landfills that could interfere with training or operations. Military officials were reportedly concerned about potential problems with landfills near bases.
But they turned down an amendment by Sen Ben Clark, D-Cumberland, that would have re-instituted the buffer requirements near sensitive conservation areas. Bill sponsors said those buffers are the restrictions that have stopped new landfills from being constructed since their implementation in 2007.
Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, called the bill "an assault on the health and well-being" of North Carolinians in low-income and rural areas.
"Traditionally, landfills have been built in low-income and minority communities." Robinson said, listing health problems in one such community in Greensboro that are linked to a nearby landfill. "Senate Bill 328 is an attack on the environment in which our children and citizens must live."
She also criticized the proposal to allow trash trucks to leak, which she said will pollute streets and "adhere to the hands and mouths of children."
The final Senate vote on the bill was 29-16, with Republican Sens. Neal Hunt of Wake County, Louis Pate of Wayne County and Ronald Rabin of Harnett County joining Democrats in opposition.