One Man’s Trash…

Would someone please explain to me what’s so god-awful about importing trash from other states? As long as the landfills are properly permitted, why does it matter from an environmental perspective whether trash winds up in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York or somewhere else?

The Free Lance-Star observes that trash “imports” decreased 10 percent last year — but “don’t rejoice,” it cautioned, as if declining volumes of garbage were something to celebrate: Waste Management Inc., wants to bring in more trash on barges.

I’d say that the declining volume of trash is bad news, especially for the poor, rural counties that reap a $40- to $50 windfall for every ton of garbage dumped in their state-of-the-art landfills. Take a look at the budgets of some of these counties, like Amelia, Charles City and King George counties. Local residents get tremendous benefits from the presence of a business they can’t see, hear or smell.

The Free Lance-Star cites the problem of traffic accidents caused by the trash-hauling trucks.

After numerous reports of nonfatal accidents involving trash haulers, two motorists died when their vehicles were struck by trash trucks. Then recently, a county deputy was run off the road on a foggy morning by three trucks traveling together, possibly going too fast for the conditions. The three drivers were arrested on reckless- driving charges; two of them face deportation to their native Ecuador. Though the truckers in the fatal accidents were not ruled at fault, the situation points to a roadway woefully unprepared for the heavy truck traffic that is using it.

The answer isn’t fewer trucks, it’s more. With more tax money rolling in, Prince George can afford to fix the roads!

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9 responses to “One Man’s Trash…”

  1. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “The answer isn’t fewer trucks, it’s more. Use the money to fix the roads.”

    Sounds like something Ray Hyde would say.

    Sure those counties need the money, but isn’t there a better way to get money out of the urban areas than taking in their trash?

    How much do you suppose Prince George residents pay in Federal and State taxes that go to support programs and projects that operate mainly in urban areas? How much of that is offset by the trash money?

    Is this another example of urban areas not paying their true locational costs?

  2. More trucks will likely lead to more road deaths.

    More dumps will likely lead to more groundwater pollution over time.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Don’t ask these guysto be consistent…they lost that ability long ago.

    A “state of the art landfill” is still an environmental problem in the making. Virginia has a specifically, legally limited landmass. It cannot accrue more, except in some highly unlikely circumstances. Filling tiny fractions of that landmass with garbage simply leads to larger fractions being filled later. Until I see Bacon and others here living on top of a landfill themselves, I can’t see importing trash to be a positive.

    As to the “true locational costs” …that is a very valid argument. It would seem we would be subsidizing the poor decisions of others.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Oh believe me, you can see and smell it. Driving in King George on Route 3 when the wind is just right with windows open? Whew-boy – guess that’s the cost of economic progress.

    It’s convenient that you didn’t deal with this quote: “When barging does begin, perhaps more Virginians will gain perspective on the trade-off between the infusion of funds vs. the deleterious results of all that trash”.

    I’m sure the folks who died in those crashes and everyone living above compromised groundwater really appreciates the perspective that these landfills are a “windfall”. Guess the folks living near there should re-think their opinions. Thanks for showing us the light.

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    People drive big trucks to haul garbage whether they’re dumping it into a landfill in Pennsylvania or a landfill in Virginia. You’re not going to save lives by discouraging trash dumping in one location and it in another.

    Likewise, modern landfills are highly engineered and protected against toxic leaks. But if leaks do occur, it doesn’t cause any more harm to leak in Virginia than to leak in upstate New York.

    Now it turns out that we can extract methane, a clean-burning gas, from garbage dumps. Just think about it, a source of clean, renewable energy!

  6. More trucks, driving farther, will lead to more road deaths and pollution.

    Methane capture is a nice recycling project, but we need to nip pollution at the source.

    You are not fooling anyone.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Landfill gas is not as clean as we would like to thing. Significant amounts of mercury, NOx, and SO2 are all found in landfill gas exhaust. However, there are filters that can be used to capture some of these pollutants– Virginia should make the use of these filters mandatory if it is going to incentivize landfill gas development.

  8. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Ordinarily you cannot create or destroy matter, all you can do is change it’s state.

    Your choices are bury it or burn it: pollute the water or the air.

    Or, as Scott says correctly, don’t create the garbage. It makes me crazy when the antitheft package costs more than the product, when a perfectly good basic product can’t be repaired, etc. etc. etc. If we really want to cut our oil usage without cutting our ability to travel, then all we have to do is stop buying junk that is often manufactured from oil, using oil, and delivered with oil.

    One thing we do by creating big landfills is concentrate the problems. If you can’t create or destroy matter, then either there is no pollution, and everything is natural, or else we cause the pollution by concentrating otherwise naturally occurring stuff.

    Creating big landfills and all the rules it takes to build one decreases the likely places to have one and increases the amount of trucking needed to reach the place, but you don’t hear anyone talking about mixed use and dumps in the same breath. The big dumps and big regulations create big opportunities for big companies and offer very little real, system wide, benefit in return. All they do is turn ten pounds of garbage into twenty pounds of garbage because of all the land they use to fill with.

  9. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    Fairfax County has a contract with a vendor to turn trash into electricity. The county breaks even more or less and has found that market forces control its trash supply. It’s one thing where the county does a pretty good job. It’s probably because of the market pressure.

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