Allowing Local Landfill to Expand

Among questions Ohio County voters will be asked to answer during the May 13 primary election is whether the Short Creek Landfill will be permitted to accept more solid waste.

Because language on election ballots must be short and to the point, the single sentence voters will see May 13 does not provide much information. It asks simply whether the landfill should be permitted to handle as much as 50,000 tons of solid waste each month.

That sounds like a lot, but bear in mind the landfill’s current authorization is for 30,000 tons. That, according to landfill operator Republic Services, will be inadequate in the future. Already some waste intended for Short Creek has to be diverted to other facilities.

Some landfills in other areas have proven to be problems for their communities, especially because of odors. That has not been the case at Short Creek, where the landfill opened in 1989. Its owners have handled operations “by the book.”

Republic seems to have been a good neighbor here in Ohio County. The landfill itself is operated responsibly. Sixty-one people work for the company locally. It generates about $180,000 a year in tax revenue for the county. In addition, Republic supports a variety of worthy causes in the Ohio Valley.

Company officials have said there are no plans to use the landfill for any type of waste not accepted now. Liquid waste such as “frack water” from gas wells is not handled there.

Even if voters agree to the new tonnage limit, state regulators would have to approve any change in what the landfill can accept.

Republic provides an essential service to our communities. Approval of the new limit would ensure they can continue doing so at the Short Creek Landfill. For that reason, voting “yes” on the ballot question would be appropriate.