As you move around this website, the inevitable conclusion is that an incinerator is a really bad idea. Let’s act to stop toxic ash and scrubber bags being dumped into the landfill, toxic materials being stored at the landfill, toxic emissions being released into the air, and dirty water either being dumped into a sewage system not designed to handle the toxins, or being emptied into open pools at the site. Heavy truck traffic will clog the roads, noise levels will significantly increase because heavy machinery could run 16 or more hours per day, vermin and insect pests will be brought into the county, and odors will permeate the air as the garbage is dumped onto the ground for processing (shredding, crushing, drying).
The Stafford Deputy Administrator recently reported that the landfill should last until 2067, so we shouldn’t rush into something that we will surely regret. Why rush to implement a thermal technology like pyrolysis, gasification, or plasma arc, given that such technology has never been successfully implemented anywhere in the United States. These thermal technologies have been dismal failures when trying to turn garbage into electricity. One someday-might-be-successful example that began last year in England is always cited; it has not been around long enough to see whether it can actually meet its goals. So, what should we do?
The R-Board’s rationale is that the landfill costs money to operate. No kidding! And is losing money, after years of revenue surpluses. Why has it turned into a money-loser? It seems that the R-Board has done this to itself, by setting fees below the cost of processing the garbage. Landfill operating costs include machinery, salaries, dump site preparation in conformance with Regulations, etc. Fees should cover operating expenses and a reserve to open new areas within the landfill, called cells.
Haulers pay “tipping fees” to dump their garbage, but they pay less than the actual cost of processing the garbage. Large volume haulers get discounts based on the amount of garbage they deliver to the landfill. Stafford tipping fees are the second lowest in this region. Why don’t we charge the actual cost of processing garbage? The BOS seems to be afraid that companies will send their garbage to other landfills. Oh no!!
Recycling revenue has decreased because only certain types of materials are commercially valuable, but Stafford mixes less-valuable recyclables in with them. Truckers that haul the recyclables away from the landfill get less money for mixed loads, and so pay Stafford less money for the recyclables. Stafford doesn’t sort recyclables in the optimal method. Stafford also discourages recycling, when it closed 3 remote recycling centers.
Methane gas is recovered from the landfill and generates revenue, and when the leaky pipes are fixed, revenue will rise.
So what can be done? Increase real estate taxes? Charge a fee for residents to enter the landfill? Increase tipping fees? Issue decals to residents so that people from outside the landfill jurisdiction cannot just drive in and dump garbage? Be better at sorting recyclables? Create policies that eliminate things that cannot be recycled successfully, like plastic bags and water bottles, and the like? Yeah, all of these in combination can increase revenue and cover the costs of the landfill, instead of building a polluting incinerator.
Zero Waste is a goal that can be achieved, if we have the will to do so, and the County sets policies that allow it to happen. Major cities such as San Francisco, Austin, and others, are heading that way because it creates small business jobs, doesn’t burn things that can be reused, and avoids the noxious impacts on our health and environment. We have 50 years to make the right decision. Why build a failed-technology incinerator that will pollute our neighborhoods when we can take easy steps that won’t damage the environment or our health?
Be vocal. Demand that your Supervisor hold a Town Hall Meeting on the incinerator and tell him/her what you think. Whenever Town Hall Meetings are held, be vocal about the incinerator. Demand answers. It would appear that Stafford Supervisors are beginning to hold such meetings, but in each case they have a specific agenda. Use that time to expand the agenda to what is also important. Just because they tried to avoid hearing what you have to say in the past, don’t allow that to happen now.