Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More Problems at Countywide Landfill

The Akron Beacon Journal's excellent environmental reporter Bob Downing gives us the low down on the latest violations at Countywide landfill in Stark County. (Much of Summit County's trash ends up there.) Buried trash was found outside the permitted area, and not only that:

The EPA said the trash was ''black, appeared to have been charred and was saturated with black liquid.''

The material was ''warm to the touch, steaming and emitted a strong smoldering smell,'' the agency said."

This is the same landfill that has been under investigation for suspected underground toxic fires. No matter the violation and all the threats of closing it down, the landfill continues to operate -- because what do we do with all the trash if it is shut down?

Our training as good little mindless consumers in a free market capitalistic society has encouraged us not to think about landfills. Leave that to the people who take up careers in "solid-waste management." What a term! It makes the entire process sound so normal and efficient.

The problem, of course, is that the materials that end up in landfills break down into noxious liquids that will eventually eat through the man-made lining that is supposed to keep the trash from leaching into the ground and the surrounding water tables. But out of sight -- out of mind. That is the way we deal with trash. (See The Story of Stuff in yesterday's post, paying special attention to Chapter 6.)

Perhaps we all need to take a field trip to our local landfill and sniff the air. Observe the endless line of trucks dumping tons of waste day after day. And then focus on more than "managing" the waste.


redhorse said...

I don't understand why it's not shut down yet. If I remember right, a vast majority of the trash being sent there is local, so its convenient for local governments.

But trash is often truck long distances to landfills. In this case, why aren't we diverting our trash elsewhere while this toxic hell pit is straightened out?

terra said...

I'm looking forward to the "Life After People" documentary on the History Channel next week. The planet will go on. Unfortunately, our plastic will remain too.