Proposed Sonoco landfill draws homeowners' ire
Oct 25, 2012 (Menafn - The Messenger - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- Sonoco wants to put a landfill on land that it owns in the North Hartsville area, and people who live in the area are not happy about it.
About 55 people, most of them residents of the area, showed up Tuesday night for a public hearing held by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), many of them to voice their opposition to the proposed project.
The Hartsville-based packaging company has applied to DHEC for a permit to build a Class 3 industrial landfill on property that it owns near the intersection of U.S. Highway 15 and Cool Springs Road.
DHEC is going through the first phase of its two-phase permitting process for the proposed project. Tuesday's hearing was to give citizens an opportunity to hear from DHEC about the proposed project and to comment on aspects of the project
If approved, the landfill will be a private, on-site facility on a site of about 29 acres.
DHEC has made a preliminary review of Sonoco's application and has prepared a draft determination for the proposed landfill. That does not mean that the proposal has been approved, however.
Several residents voiced concerns about the potential impact of a landfill on the health people living in the area. Others were concerned about the impact on property values.
Some said the company should look for alternatives to a landfill and others said Sonoco should locate the facility on land that it owns elsewhere in a more rural area with fewer people living nearby.
Sonoco has operated a landfill on site since 1993, but that landfill is nearing capacity and officials say a new one is needed to handle waste generated by the company's paper recycling process.
An on-site Class 3 landfill is for the permanent burial of industrial wastes that are produced through the day-to-day operations of a specific facility. Waste generated off-site is not allowed to be placed in a private, on-site landfill, said Justin Koon, DHEC project manager for the proposed project.
Household garbage, hazardous waste and infectious waste also cannot be buried in a private, on-site landfill, Koon said.
Materials that will be disposed of in the landfill are plastics, coal and wood ash from boilers, paper and bailing wire, he said.
The facility will be lined with an impervious liner composed of plastic and compacted clay to prevent leakage of any materials into groundwater, officials said.
Under state regulations, the landfill must be at least 1,000 feet from any residences, schools, day cares, hospitals, churches and public parks. Other buffer requirements will be reviewed in phase two of the permitting process -- if the process gets to phase two. Those cover wetlands, utilities, surface waters, wells and airports, Koon said.
Materials in the landfill will have to be wet down periodically to prevent dust particles from them from getting into the air, said Kent Coleman, division director for mining and solid waste for DHEC.
DHEC will review the comments made during the hearing and any comments submitted in writing before making a final decision on the draft determinations. If the determinations are approved in phase one, there will be a 15-day period for anyone objecting to the decision to appeal.
The agency is accepting written comments via mail, fax or e-mail through Tuesday, Oct. 30.
Richard Newton was among those who questioned why Sonoco could not look for an alternative to a landfill. He suggested incineration as a suitable method.
He also said that if the company needs a new landfill it should locate it in a less populated area. Newton said about 2,700 residents live within a three-mile radius of the proposed site.
"I just wonder if this is really needed," he said.
Gary Carpenter, who lives near the existing Sonoco landfill and works inLeeCounty, said residents there were told before it was built that theLeeCountylandfill would pose no problems for the public -- including odor. That has not turned out to be the case, he said.
He also said noise pollution will also be a factor with trucks coming into and out of the facility to deliver waste.
He said property values in Lee County have been severely lowered by the presence of that landfill. "What's going to happen to our property values?" he asked.
He also asked if any of Sonoco's top executives would choose to live near the landfill and said DHEC should make the company select another site away from a residential area.
Sonoco Vice President for Corporate Affairs Roger Schrum offered the only words of support for the proposed project. Sonoco, he said, daily converts about 2 million pounds of recovered paper into recycled paperboard that is used to produce industrial and consumer packaging. "Managing non-hazardous waste generated by Sonoco's Hartsville mill complex is of critical importance to our long-term operations where we employ approximately 2,000 people," he said.
Schrum said the landfill will be in full compliance with all federal and state site, design and operational environmental regulations and that the location and design of the landfill will be directed to minimize the impacts on the surrounding community and environment. "By keeping this landfill on our existing industrial site, we will be reducing potential offsite impacts and eliminate waste hauling from our facility," he said. He said the site for the proposed facility is within the bounds of the company's current industrial waste treatment area.
He said the materials that will go into the landfill will be primarily tapes, straps and staples that come from old corrugated containers, along with ashes from the company's woody biomass boilers now under construction and its mixed-fuel boilers. "These wastes have been routinely tested and continue to meet criteria for non-hazardous wastes," Schrum said.
The facility will not accept any food wastes, including those coming from the company's cafeteria. Those wastes are collected and managed by the City of Hartsville, he said. And he said Sonoco will continue to monitor groundwater in the area as it does now to ensure that all federal and state groundwater environmental regulations are met. Those test results, he added, are reported to DHEC as required by permits and state law.
Bobby Tyner said the company owns a large tract of land across the Great Pee Dee River that would be more suitable for the facility. "Wouldn't it make more sense to put it down there?" he asked.
His son, Bobby Tyner Jr., worried about the possible impact on people's health, particularly if materials leak into groundwater. "I think they need to restudy this and come up with some other options," he said.
"My biggest concern is health," said Brenda Carpenter. She said she knows of three people who lived within a one-mile radius of Sonoco's industrial waste area who died of tongue cancer. "I'm asking you to think of people. Think of children," she said.
She said she thinks DHEC is too quick to grant permits for things that are not beneficial to the public. "You've got chicken farms out there, you've got the smell, and you just keep letting them do it," she said.
"North Hartsville is going to be known as stinky Hartsville," she said. "You really need to consider the people and not the almighty dollar."
Paul Johnson asked if the current landfill has already reached capacity since it went into use in 1993, what will happen when a new landfill reaches capacity.
Agnes Curry lives in and operates a day care business in the area. She said she fears a landfill nearby will cripple her business. She said parents will not want to bring their children to her day care if they are concerned about the potential impact on their child's health.
"You have to put yourselves in our position because we live there," she said.
If the draft determinations are approved by DHEC, the process will move on to phase two, the technical application and review, which will also include another public comment period, agency officials said. Everyone who signed in at the hearing will be notified if there is another public comment period, officials said.
Agency officials gave no indication of when DHEC might make a decision.
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