Extended dump site considered in Putnam County

Published On: May 06 2014 03:35:29 PM EDT
Updated On: May 06 2014 11:20:00 PM EDT

Controversy over expanding a landfill in Putnam county has hundreds of residents saying "Don't dump on Putnam." That's the slogan adopted by one group. They don't want an expanded landfill that would become a dumping site for trash from other haulers. Residents packed into the county commission's public hearing.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. -

Pollution problems at a Putnam County landfill has some calling for an expanded place to dump waste.

But some say a proposed expanded site that would be able to take in tons of trash a day would create even more environmental concerns.

"Our problem is, we don't want a huge landfill in our backyards," one resident said.

"There's a lot of fear. We want to take that fear away," a county commissioner said.

The existing landfill is on County Landfill Road, and the sight of the proposed expanded landfill is just yards away.

People who live near Palatka say they don't want the landfill to expand.

"Any landfill has problems. It can be breached," said Walter Egan, chairman of the Putnam County Environmental Council. "Even with new technologies today, we're concerned about our groundwater, and that years from now that those liners that have been put in place can fail."

In the late 1990s, there were pollution concerns there.

"So far we found benzene and that seems to be it at this point. But nevertheless the dep would like us to clean that up," Putnam County Commissioner Chip Laibl said.

There's no word on how long the county has to clean up the mess, but commissioners say the right steps were taken to make sure people who live in the area have clean drinking water. Now that the county is considering expanding the landfill, people want to make sure there won't be any other harm done to the environment.

A Facebook page called "Don't Dump On Putnam" has more than 1,100 likes.

"We don't want this to be a major dumping ground, for Palatka to be known as a huge dumping ground for northeast Florida," Egan said.

At a meeting Tuesday night, Republic Services will make a presentation to buy 340 acres of the county landfill so it can be turned into a regional landfill and be able to take in 2,500 tons of trash a day.

If Republic does not take over the landfill, it could mean $125 million for the county to expand the dumping site, and that could mean costs to taxpayers.

Egan wants the issue to go up for a public vote, but right now there's no word if that will happen or if county commissioners will vote on allowing a private company to take over the landfill.

"We got to ask those hard to ask questions and see what's best for our citizens, we really do," Laibl said. "We want to do the best thing for our future generation."

"I think that Putnam County needs to put this to a vote," said Putnam resident, Jim McDonald. "Let the citizens of Putnam County decide whether or not they want to sell their landfill."

"Places like Jacksonville, have their own landfills. There are other landfills that have their own. So we don't see that as the issue. I think the issue is gaining confidence with the citizens. And really communicating ourselves to them," said Republic Services employee Doug White.

There's no word on when any decision is expected or on how any decision would affect people's dumping fees. There is another meeting planned to discuss the issue, the landfill could be voted on by the end of May by the City Commission. 

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