Submitted by Concerned Citizens of Charles City County (C5)
In addition to two controversial gas plants permitted without our consent, a pandemic, economic woes, and a divisive national election, residents of Charles City County recently learned that the massive 629 acre landfill owned by Waste Management of Virginia has applied to significantly expand the volume of trash it accepts.
For years, residents of the county have expressed concerns with the smell and worries about the water quality. And we’ve had good reason to worry. The DEQ has repeatedly cited this landfill for violations, most recently in September of 2019, when Waste Management was cited for a range of problems, including “Inspection reports are not being conducted at the required frequency, and inspection reports repeatedly identify the same problem without corrective action taking place.” Additionally, this most recent notice of violation “indicated that existing controls are failing to minimize pollutants in stormwater discharges from the site.” Since the landfill was opened in 1990, residents of Charles City County, who all drink well water, have worried that the pollution leaching from the landfill has been responsible for high cancer rates in their county. Now residents face the prospect of this dangerous, leaking landfill doubling in size.
If a landfill with a poor record of upholding state regulations is permitted to develop 16 new cells, there are clearly threats to the health and safety of the residents of Charles City County. The permit application acknowledges that 3.31 acres of local wetlands will be directly impacted, along with a much broader wetland and stream footprint affecting the Chickahominy River, the James River, and the Chesapeake Bay. Waste Management has proposed to “mitigate” this pollution by “preserving” other wetlands elsewhere, but the Chickahominy River, which is just a mile from the landfill, is a crucial water resource for communities throughout the Tidewater region, including the city of Newport News.
If this weren’t reason enough for concern, this expansion will impact a historically significant Civil War site, Saint Mary’s Church Battlefield. Since the landfill was originally permitted, historians have recognized the significance of a battle fought by US Colored Troops, hundreds of whom might have been buried right on the grounds the landfill intends to expand to. While there is an opportunity to share public comments with the Army Corp of Engineers as they consider this permit, the timeline and the public engagement with this project is outrageously short, comments close on November 7th.
For more information on Concerned Citizens of Charles City County (C5) and this landfill, please see our website: https://c5groupinform.wixsite.com/charlescity