By Zema Luncher
North Comise County politicians are disgusted with recent suggestions for the storage and use of garbage at Site 52. Protestors say a landfill is not the best option for the site and there are other methods that would be better for people and the environment.
“We could use one of those new-fangled methane things,” said protestor Shawn Ottens. “Yuh know, like they use over in Europe.”
Ottens is talking about using a combination of an incinerator and biomass methane plant in place of a landfill. Instead of being released right into the atmosphere, the gases from the incinerator would be used by the biomass plant to create electricity for Comise County homes.
But local politicians, speaking at an Amnesty International conference over the weekend, said this solution was cruel and unethical in the treatment of garbage.
“You’re talking about burning possibly millions of bags of garbage just to power a few homes,” Comise County Warden Tom Gudgeon said. “It makes my stomach turn.
We’d never burn humans or animals to power machines or make electricity so why would we ever sacrifice bags in this way?”
Gudgeon also says the technology is unproven and would further damage the county’s financial sector.
“The technology to which Mr. Ottens is referring has only been used all over Europe, nowhere else,” said Gudgeon. “That’s just not enough to prove it could work here.
I’m not sure anyone would want to invest in something foreign like that.”
Landfills have also been used much longer and have proven to be good homes for garbage until they get overcrowded, Gudgeon says. They are also much easier to construct, he adds.
“You just dig a hole in the ground and put the garbage in,” Gudgeon said. “Also, think how long humans have been using dumps, obviously, since they’ve been fine this long that means landfills are more reliable than anything else.”
But landfill construction and maintenance is more complicated at Site 52 because of the aquifer. Water must be pumped out often to keep the garbage’s homes from collapsing and a special liner and layers of stone and gravel will also be necessary to keep the garbage from drowning.
Despite the extra costs of these precautions, Gudgeon says he has no plans to move the landfill to another site or use another method of housing the garbage.
“A site that would be easier to build on is just low-grade and we don’t want that for our garbage,” Gudgeon said. “Other options may be cheaper in the long run and more beneficial to humans and animals, but it would involve killing an entire population of bags.
Sometimes doing the right thing means making sacrifices of time, money and space.”