Not in Our House

When it comes to out-of-state trash, some Nevadans are mad as hell and say they don't want to import it any more. According to The Wall Street Journal, San Francisco-based Recology's proposed landfill near Winnemucca, Nev., has sparked protest from both politicians and local residents.

None other than U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who represents the state, recently informed Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons of his opposition to the site, in which about 4,000 tons of trash from the San Francisco area would be disposed of each day. “I just decided enough is enough,” the senator told the Journal. “Why should Nevada be the place where other states send their garbage?”

Local residents also have expressed concerns that the proposed site could harm the surrounding environment, and, according to the Journal, Reid attached an amendment to a federal appropriations bill that would fund a study into the possible environmental effects of the landfill; the bill was passed by the Senate and has moved to the House. Still, “I think a lot of what this is about is that some people just don't want California's trash,” Rich Stone, a Winnemucca city councilman, told the newspaper.

The industry frequently deals with this kind of reaction to out-of-state trash shipments. For years, Michigan residents and elected officials excoriated Toronto and the trash that the city was sending to a landfill in Sumpter Township, Mich. State and federal politicians made several attempts to halt the shipments. Thanks to the city's diversion efforts, the exports have decreased, and Toronto officials announced earlier this year that they expect the shipments to end altogether by 2011.

A few years ago, North Carolina imposed a one-year moratorium on permitting new landfills in part because of residents' outcries about trash imports.

The general concerns about out-of-state trash imports may be understandable, but that doesn't make them well-founded. As long as a landfill is operating according to regulations, why does it matter where the material placed in it is coming from?

Those in the industry should conduct aggressive campaigns to meet with the public and elected officials and address their concerns. However, the prevalence of NIMBY-ism suggests this will be a never-ending battle. And in Nevada, that battle has a new front.
Stephen Ursery, Editor

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