[GRRN] Trash Exports - FYI
Fri, 18 Jun 1999 09:20:38 -0500
05:46 PM ET 06/17/99
Trash-Receiving States Seek Limit
Trash-Receiving States Seek Limit
By KATHERINE RIZZO=
Associated Press Writer=
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Regional tensions tugged at a Senate committee
Thursday as unwilling trash-receiving states asked for permission
to restrict out-of-state garbage deliveries.
``How would you react if your neighbor began dumping tons of
trash in your back yard?'' said Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., whose
state's landfills took in 2.8 million tons of out-of-state waste
``What if he said there was nothing you could do to stop it and
that he planned to increase the amount he dumped in your yard every
day, and expected you to pay for it?''
Bayh, who along with Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, is seeking
congressional authority for states desiring to limit garbage
imports, said the issue should be dealt with before New York City's
only garbage dump closes in two years, forcing 5 million tons of
trash onto trucks or barges bound for other states' landfills.
Any legislation, though, must pass muster with Environment and
Public Works Committee Chairman John Chafee, R-R.I., and he was
Chafee said he understood the concerns of garbage importing
states which ``don't want to become, or perceived as, the dumping
grounds for New York City's or anybody's trash.''
But, he added, the waste-disposal industry had a valid argument
when it points to the monitoring wells, extra layers of liners and
other environmental improvements installed in the huge megadumps
built to accept the traveling trash.
``Consumers, in this case solid-waste generators, should have
the freedom to send their waste to the best, most economically
efficient facilities available, whether in-state or out-of-state,''
said Chafee, whose committee has jurisdiction over both the
Voinovich-Bayh waste-importing bill and a competing version offered
by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.
The differences between the competing bills, however, was not as
stark as the senators' differing perspectives on interstate garbage
As the hearing opened, two of the senators made references to
unrelated state-to-state problems.
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid said he agreed that ``if you make a mess
you should clean it up yourself, not just toss it into your
neighbor's yard,'' but also said Congress should be consistent when
the subject is nuclear waste, not kitchen waste.
``Do not dismiss lightly the similarities between forcing states
to accept unwanted trash from other states and the desire of many
in this body to force Nevada to accept waste from America's nuclear
reactors,'' he said.
A tension of a different sort tinged the comments of Sen. Frank
Lautenberg, D-N.J., a garbage-exporting state, who noted that New
Jersey doesn't like taking in the trash that flows eastward in the
air, and has complicated waste-management problems of its own.
Eastern states blame coal-burning utilities from the Midwest for
contributing to their air pollution.
``We are in heavy muddle, as they say,'' said Lautenberg.
Virginia officials, meanwhile, commented on both sides of the
Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Chuck Robb, D-Va., said their
state needs the ability to impose reasonable controls, while an
official from one of that state's poorest counties praised
out-of-state garbage as a financial savior.
Floyd H. Miles Sr., chairman of the board of supervisors of
Charles City County, said his community had few options when it was
forced to replace its old, unsafe landfill, and every option was
Finally, the county decided to build a landfill big enough to
hold not just its own garbage but trash from elsewhere, as well,
with the goal of gaining much-needed revenue from a
state-of-the-art disposal site.
``We were willing to trade off the handling of other people's
trash in return for having such a safe facility,'' said Miles. ``We
did not discriminate at that time between the trash from the city
of Richmond or northern Virginia and the trash of Newark or New
Now, he said, the county has an environmentally safe landfill,
new schools, new county offices and lower taxes, thanks to its $40
million profit on waste accepted since 1990.
But the rest of Virginia has leaking, antiquated landfills and a
political debate over ``the quality of New York trash versus
Richmond trash and what state is number one, two or three in terms
of handling out-of-state trash,'' Miles complained.
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