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Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Pittsboro, NC - At our meeting on January 18, we voted to halt our efforts to identify a potential landfill in the county. I understand that we have a responsibility to deal with our trash but am not convinced that a landfill is the best long-term solution. Over the past 18 months the solid waste advisory committee has been studying various alternatives for us to dispose of our trash. We currently ship our trash to a regional landfill in Sampson County; an 81 mile drive. We all agree that this isn't the best long-term solution.
After studying all the alternatives, the data suggests that the non-landfill options are cost prohibitive at this time. Additionally, if we were to choose to build a landfill now, the economies of scale argue for a regional landfill. A regional landfill would accept waste from a few surrounding counties or cities, as opposed to a landfill that would only accept waste produced in Chatham County. I knew I couldn't support a regional landfill but thought it important to continue the process in case we decided on Chatham only landfill.
As I studied the data more, listened to residents, and visited the nine possible sights, I became convinced that I couldn't support any type of landfill in the county at this time. There are very promising technologies that may be more affordable in the next 5-10 years. Additionally, at least one of our neighboring counties is considering building a regional site.
Since we are not under near term pressure to have an alternative, I felt it best that we concentrate on those other options. The decision to build a site now would have committed us to 40 years of dumping trash and effectively stopped the research into more environmentally friendly choices.
I felt like some of the other commissioner were coming to the same conclusion so I put the topic on the agenda for discussion. It turned out that the majority had come to the same conclusion so we felt it would be best to stop the process immediately rather than put the public through any more stress. Another reason to stop the process sooner rather than later is the chilling effect that the uncertainty was having on the real estate market. While some will argue that we should have waited for more public input to make our decision, I feel it was the right thing to do at the right time.
Brian Bock is chairman of the Chatham County Commissioners.
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