Will the new waste-transfer search be any different than the last?

The County Commissioners are starting the new search process to site a proposed waste transfer station, just as they received official notice of an environmental justice complaint filed with the EPA in 2007 by the landfill neighbors.

Before getting to the search the board met in closed session to discuss a newly received notification from the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Civil Rights that a formal complaint had been filed.

The complaint alleges racial discrimination on the part of the county, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, the Orange Water and Sewer Authority and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

County Attorney Geoff Gledhill said officials will not publicly discuss Eubanks Road until they decide on the board's response.

To avoid similar protests this time, the board will serve as the search committee but will work with Olver Inc., a Charlotte-based consulting firm that specializes in environmental issues and waste facilities.

"We're leading this, but this is your siting process," Olver engineer Ed Shuffler told the board. "You're a big part of saying 'yes, we agree' or saying 'no, you should change.'"

- Daily Tar Heel: Public will get input on waste - City, 1/17/08

The consultant told the Commissioners that they would be going through a process of ranking possible sites by various criteria. I still haven't heard the most important criteria mentioned: is the proposed site located proximate to any communities that have already carried a disproportionate burden of living near the County's waste facilities? The answer must be no!

The N&O reports the site search consultant saying "We’re trying to design a process so it isn’t prejudiced by previous decisions." I'm not sure whether that's a good thing.



hillbillies in Virginia!

First place I believe it is an environmental justice complaint not a charge of racism.

2nd, It is my understanding, (not 100% sure) that Oliver Inc was part of the original SWAB recommendation process. If that is the case then I do not see how Oliver Inc can be seen as objective as long as Eubanks is on the table.

However, there is no process that will make a Eubanks Road site decision acceptable. The BOCC needs to get it off the table from the start.

- but the question should be will the outcome from this new process be any different!

I was inadvertently "Anonymous" on 1/17 at 4:49.

David Richter

The EPA defines Environmental Justice this way:
Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.
Race is inexorably intertwined with Environmental Justice. In the case we are discussing and in the origin of the Environmental Justice movement Race is almost always a factor. Thus the claim that institutional racism occurred is likely a part of this case.

A friend of mine, who knows the area's history pretty well, pointed out to me that the original landfill (I wrote "the original landfill"), which is north of Eubanks, is as close to Mill House Road as it is to Rogers Road. It looks that way to me. They also told me that the ground water in the area flows to the NE, away from Rogers Road.


There a few flaws in your logic there, George. First, there aren't more than a handful of homes on that end of Mill House, whereas there is a large neighborhood including Purefoy Road off of Rogers. Secondly, the part of the landfill that's north of Eubanks (ie: closer to Mill House) is mostly things like construction waste which has a lot less off-site impacts than things like food and other nasty, decomposing stuff that is put in the main landfill on the south side of Eubanks.

I don't think the two sides of Eubanks are at all comparable in terms of impact on the environment nor the residents.

I wondering more about history - which seems to play a role in the discussions - than in the current impact.

I missed that very import word in your *original* post. Sorry!

Although I was here in the 70's, I was not yet paying attention to politcs. I'm still not convinced that there are as many white people living as close on the northern side as there are black folks on the southern side. But let's hear some more history from whoever knows it...

Mill House Road also has an historically African-American neighborhood.

I believe it is true that people have most often focused on neighborhoods off Rogers Road when referring to the historically African American community.  However, those who read or heard the Sept 20, 2007 CEER (Coalition) presentation at the Assembly of Governments meeting might recall that the very opening of that presentation referred to land and neighborhoods from Homestead to Rogers, from Eubanks to Millhouse Roads. The description, Roger-Eubanks Community, is hardly accidental; we, the residents in this area, use this description quite intentionally to include Millhouse Road.


I can't remember the exact year that the landfill expanded south of Eubanks (98?), but there are many more years worth of trash landfilled north of Eubanks than south. And the landfill north of Eubanks is not lined, whereas the new section is. The liner supposedly prevents groundwater contamination. I'm not convinced that a liner doesn't end up with some leaks, but certainly a liner is way better than no liner.

Most residents who live on or near Eubanks Road (on the north and south side),  certainly those who live off Rogers and Millhouse Roads, are very much aware of the first unlined landfill and all the other solid waste management facilities (two industrial, yard waste, appliances, garbage dumpsters, etc).

There is no amnesia here or brain lapses or historical misrepresentations. I myself have relatives who still live on Millhouse Road.

And, yes, Gayle Wilson has certainly repeatedly stated that the water flow is northeast--although the arsenic/contamination reported in a number of wells on BOTH sides of Eubanks (Millhouse and Rogers) make that a somewhat moot point.

There is also the matter of the toxic leachate on the SOUTH side along with the M&R landfill and the hazardous waste collection.  The County identified problems with the leachate as far back as the late 90s.  And, of course, the southside landfill is now 90-ft high since the County now buries garbage UP instead of just IN the ground. Luckily, though, the new (July 2007) NC solid waste bill requires that landfill liners be checked for leaks.  I wonder how the county will do that beginning atop 90 feet of garbage and then down?

But I'm not sure why we're discussing the North vs. South side of Eubanks.  Both sides contain garbage.


In today's CHN there was a guest column by Neloa Jones that was a great response to what was a guest column by Barry Katz and a letter to the editor Nancy Parks. Both Katz's coloumn and Parks' letter were accusatory without being substantive and revealed a basic lack of understanding of the problem and the underlying issues and history. Neloa does a great job of getting to the core issues. Instead of getting defensive and going into denial, we need to face and solve this very real problem that has been allowed to fester for so long. The following are pointers to the columns and the letter.



http://www.chapelhillnews.com/opinion/guest_columns/story/12208.html http://www.chapelhillnews.com/opinion/guest_columns/story/11640.html http://www.chapelhillnews.com/opinion/story/11844.html

Marcoplos is correct, there was definitely a mixed solid waste landfill on the north side of Eubanks Road.  That portion of the landfill closed in 1995 or 1996 to my recollection.  But there is buried mixed solid waste there.  And that portion of the MSW landfill is much older and was not built with the same environmental standards that were used for the south side of Eubanks - ie the liner on the south Eubanks landfill is much thicker and heavier.

Ruby, Let me say -- Please get straight on this. The unlined landfill north of Eubanks is huge compared to the lined landfill to the south, and the bulk of it is not construction and demolition waste as you say. It is in fact the sanitary landfill used by Orange County for a quarter century. Check Googlemaps to appreciate the size and proximity of this landfill that you mention.

I have got to say that your dismissive attitude of folks to the north side of the landfill is disheartening, even appalling. The landfill affects us as much as it does the folks towards Rogers Road, and your opinion that it doesn't shows the problem that we face every day. Even if there are fewer of us out here, it doesn't mean that we should lose every time, victims of "Stick it to them because we can" mentality.

Folks in the county don't count to townfolks, considered less than human, and because of that, we get stuck with all of your collective crap, or whatever you wish to call it. In addition to the landfill, we get the town public works site, transportation depot, impound lot, park and ride lot, industrial park, animal shelter, and maybe the homeless shelter if Mayor Foy has his way. To make the contrast complete, and different Rogers Road, we do not have Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools.

I would like to believe that everyone in a community shares in the responsibilities, but around here it is just not so. In this town famous for bragging about its progressive mindset, talk is cheap, plentiful, but not much use to those of us who carry the burden and live with the hypocrisy while others entertain themselves debating what is right and wrong.

I would be happy to show you around this part of the county that you need to know better. Give me a call if you are interested - 942-0791.

Rick Kennedy

Rick, as I said above, I'm sorry for not completely understanding George (zabouti)'s original question, and also for forgetting the not-so-distant past of the landfill. (In fact I lived here then and do remember that, and the LOG, and some other detritus of the era in which Chapel Hill ran the landfill.)

I have friends living around both Rogers Road and Mill House Road, and I think its about time that someone else shared the burden of our County's waste. You've all done more than your part. But I still don't buy the assertion (that I thought George was making) that the landfill has affected white people to the same exrtent that it had affected black folks. Do you disagree?  If so, why?

While I certainly understand Rick Kennedy's points (that Millhouse Road residents have been adversely affected by solid waste facilities just like Rogers Road neighborhoods), I am not sure I understood the point of most of the other posts thus far.

Millhouse Road residents (as I tried to point out earlier) have had more than their fair share of the county's garbage, and the residents who live off Rogers Road recognize this fact.  The stench from the landfills (Eubanks north or south) is great and permeates the air of all nearby residents as is also true of the stench from the garbage dumpsters (on the north side).  The buzzards roost on BOTH sides of Eubanks Road. The vermin brought in on garbage trucks infest BOTH sides of Eubanks.

But, yes, Ruby is right, there are significantly fewer Millhouse Road residents (white and black), which, however, does not minimize their anguish.

I will also say this, however (to get closer to answering Ruby's last question), which pains me to have to say.  As an African American, I am never surprised that the first thing some people do when a reference is made to "racism" (in this case, environmental racism) is distract from the real issues.  In this case, those who live nowhere nearby think they are brilliant when they point out, "oh, but there are white people impacted by the landfill as well, and these whites have been adversely impacted longer."  That's what  a lot of these discussions sound like to me.  I would like to be astonished, but unfortunately, I am not--it so sadly CLASSIC. 

Mr. Kennedy has a right to be angry as would anyone who has lived near Eubanks (whether he is white or black), and he is right to point out that Eubanks Road is being used for the unwanted facilities that other communities don't want (landfills, animal shelters, etc., and possibly a homeless shelter as well).  These decisions are affecting him and anyone who lives near or on Eubanks Road. 

However, it is also true--and this is what it sounds like certain folks are having real trouble with--(and, yes, I think this MAY have been the point Ruby was trying to get at, maybe) is that Eubanks Road was selected primarily and in the first place BECAUSE it was away from MOST whites, not necessarily every single white person (that's kinda' hard to do anyway).  It was also and primarily selected for the first landfill in 1975 (albeit the north side) BECAUSE the largest and only NEARBY community at the time WAS a predominantly low-income, politically impotent community of color.  If Mr. Kennedy is white, then local governments considered him expendable (for the "greater good" as governments so often do) as they did ALL other Millhouse Road residents and ALL ROGERS ROAD residents, which by the way, includes Rogers Road, Priscilla Lane, Purefoy Drive, residents east and north of Edgar Street, Sandberg Lane, and Rusch Road. 


Ruby and all, Ms. Jones summed up the situation perfectly. Eubanks was chosen as the landfill site thirty years ago because the few folks in the area, regardless of color, had little political capital to oppose the effort. Before the Eubanks site was suggested by Harold Harris -- landfill manager who happened to drive by the property and noted it for sale -- sites closer to town were fought off by townfolks who didn't want to accept it for themselves. There was no no search, no protocol, no paramaters for this site -- only a decision to stick it away from people who mattered. I will go so far as to say that the attention now focused on Rogers Road is largely a result of new and better-off neighborhoods there weighing in on their environs rather than a moment of moral clarity for the commuity in general. Regardless of the source, it is still welcome attention.

To me, a larger influence than the physical manifestations of a landfill such as debris/traffic/stench is the assumption it precipitates in the minds of town residents that people out here aren't worthy of respect or any consideration. The responsibility to reclaim the landfill -- Harold Harris talked of how the original idea was to turn the landfill into a golf course! -- have been repudiated. Promises to that effect are no more than a point of amusement for elected officials who want to know, "Did you get it in writing?" So it goes on and on and everyone else in this county of 125,000 people get a free ride and jabber about how damn progressive they are.

Around here we have seen the landfill's influence poison the entire area. Adjacent property is seen to have little value for anything else, so it is taken for landfill expansion and used for the new C&D landfill, recycling facility,green box site, source of cover soil, etc.

The toxic effect pushes on down the road and properties drop like dominoes including site17 thousand-acre landfill expansion approved by our county commissioners/the industrial park/park and ride lot/town public works/animal shelter/town transportation depot/town impound lot/and the Mayor Foy homeless shelter. Each one is a burden that would make any other neighborhood in Chapel Hil-Carrboro go ballistic, yet we get them all and aren't even a part of town. A few of these even go into the rural buffer, but no one from town says a word because they know if it is here, it is not by them.

For the tranfer station, another domino in the line, the parameters for selection will again point to Eubanks unless we truly account for the moral responsibility for us all to all share in the burdens of our community. I have said it before, and I say it now -- look to Carolina North for the transfer station site. Five or ten acres there would do the job, and Chapel Hill could finally appreciate the weight of responsibility for such things. Until that day, pontification about self-sustainability rings hollow.

For those who want to keep the landfill in Orange County, I appreciate that sentiment, but it means little when you are pointing several miles down the road as the place for it to be, like encouraging the tradition of virgin sacrifices when you yourself are not a virgin. Not much for you to lose.


Rick - how would you feel about your garbage ending up in some poor, disenfranchised South Carolina community?

Mark, I take it you are in favor of virgin sacrifices. The choice to keep dumping on disenfranchised folks here versus elsewhere is not much of a choice. Can't I choose a location in a community that is well-off and responsible for two-thirds of the problem? Wouldn't you say that is the preferred option?

Since the landfill question came up years ago, Chapel Hill proceeded with two huge developments -- Southern Village and Meadowmont, but gee, no room for a landfill anywhere. Neither Chapel Hill nor Carrboro could find room in town for their public works sites either, but they managed to find plenty of land for a high school site, and apparently they had no problem invoking eminent domain to get it.

It is maddening to hear progressive talking heads blabber on about keeping "our trash" or whatever in "our community" when they never include us as part of their community except when it comes these things. Is it justice of any sort for one part of the county to carry such a disproportionate share of the load? If you had the power, would you create such an arrangement yourself and say that is was a just one?

Do we share schools? No. Do we share water? No. Do we share police/fire. No. Do we have any say in land management issues? No. Can we vote in town elections? No. Do we get stuck with all the crap of a community? Yes. It is an abusive and arrogant attitude worthy of a Republican enclave, which is what Chapel Hill seems to have become, judging from the way they treat the folks around it. I wonder who will be more offended with that, Chapel Hillians or Republicans. I guess we'll see.


A large part of the problem with siting a landfill is that it is rarely done properly. Therefore we are forced into choosing between two very narrow, poor alternatives (not unlike our elections). I am convinced that, if we did it right, we could deal with our own solid waste in the county. If we can't, we are failures. 

I made a proposal several years ago that any housing development of a certain size must contain a construction waste landfill for the waste generated during construction. This accomplishes several things 1) construction waste would be reduced to save land 2) construction waste would need to be certified as non-toxic or less people would want to live there 3) it would keep waste out of a community landfill thus not burdening the taxpayer and helping make development pay for it itself.


Another proposal I'm considering to reduce teen pregnancy - virgins are exempt from tip fees at the landfill.

and brilliantly stated.  He has said it all.


I basically agree with Rick's take on the injustice of the whole situation. However, it doesn't point us toward a solution. What is your idea of a viable solution, Rick?
He asked you first - so just what is your solution to siting one properly in what location?

"Do we share schools? No. Do we share water? No. Do we share police/fire. No. Do we have any say in land management issues? No. Can we vote in town elections? No. Do we get stuck with all the crap of a community? Yes."


Rick, do you share our town tax bills?  Did you know about the school district boundary when you bought your house?  How about the town limits?  Did you know about the landfill that had been in operation for 17 years before you bought your property?

Can we ratchet down the rhetoric into the realm of reality?  I am sympathetic with the plight of the landfill neighbors, but the hyperbole does not help your cause.

It seems rather cowardly . . . .


My solution is to site one or two landfills designed for minimal impact, in conjunction with a very aggressive and creative waste reduction plan. Also, we should expect to work very closely with those who may be affected by the sites to mitigate problems, offer just compensation, etc. I also think that we could have several smaller waste processing sites - maybe one just for restaurant and food waste. Also we should look at helping businesses get started that would process recyclables.

Who's next with a proposal? (remember - we can't wave a magic wand & make the trash disappear...)

However, siting new landfills--even state of the art ones--will be fought tooth and nail.  Already, Gayle Wilson's current tactic is to ward off such considerations by claiming "15 years" to site another landfill.




Definitely true. The landfill site search process in the early 1990's was bungled in a myriad of ways - by the same people who are still running the show (although Moses Carey thankfully will be gone). It really could not have been handled any more incompetently.  

 Historical accuracy will be essential in order to counter the lazy assertion that we would be in for a repeat.

I think we can also do more compressing of some of our waste that can't be recycled so that it takes up less space.

But what remains is the fact that we all demand, desire or accept certain services that we don't necessarily want in our backyard. Someone always pays in terms of being the host - whether it is a school, a shelter, a dump, an airport, an operations center, a power line and right of way, a waste treatment plant, and on and on the list goes. Attempts to give all the "opportunity" to host their fair share is always defeated by market forces and elected leaders who respond to political as well as market forces.

Until we discover a new model to embrace and actually embrace it, these battles will continue. What will stem the tide?

Rick Kennedy, I am with you. I don't think any of what you said was rhetorical or hyperbole. Chapel Hill and Carrboro are hypocritcal and arrogant with their false concern over "the disenfrancised people of color". They don't want it near them is the only concern. They don't mind when county taxes support "their" schools, but the trash is all "ours".

Put the landfill at the end of Boundary St.

Mark, Your solution is not that different from mine, but I would first create two distinct counties using the city boundary as the demarcation line. Orange County could find its own solution for waste, and I would be content to take my chances on this side of the line finding a responsible solution. Chapel Hill-Carrboro would be responsible for finding its own equitable solution, which it wouldn't do. Instead, we would see all sorts of moral contortions to assuage the collective town conscience while shipping out garbage to anywhere that would take it.

This two-county solution raises all sorts of interesting possibilities for folks out in the county, the fundamental one being real chance for self-determination. It would also create some interesting circumstances for town folks, forcing them to realize what they take for granted from their county neighbors.

Looking to the past, Alamance/Caswell/Chatham/Durham/Guilford and Wake County have all been birthed from the borders of Orange County. Would one more time matter?

For the testosterone-challenged anonymous posters out there, sounds like somebody is grumpy about tax time in northern Carrboro, but just a guess on my part. The issue for me is not so much the landfill itself, although it justifiably is for others, but everything that has come since and continues to come, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro's absolute abrogation of responsibility for the burdens of its community. The hypocrisy is astounding. In regards to hyperbole, isn't that the essence of anonymous OP postings?

Hugs and kisses, Rick

in their refusal to acknowledge more responsibility for waste.  Yes, if the county were split at the current city/county boundaries, we would see an amazing shift in attitudes, not to mention an amazing shift in the so-called "center of waste."


Given the multitude of environmental impacts (which include producing garbage, construction debris, and hazardous waste), given the at least 900 acres of land (is that correct?), and given that the University and local governments should share in the responsibility to help resolve OC's waste problem, the great Carolina North offers an opportunity to do just that: the area is large enough to site state-of-the-art solid waste facilities.

Even the smallest of such facilities (e.g., transfer station) would demand only a very small fraction of this land, thus also allowing Chapel Hill and Orange County to create the much-needed appropriately sized buffers that would serve to protect nearby communities along with UNC's research centers, offices, etc., buffers sadly missing from its current Eubanks Road facilities.

Thus far, Rick Kennedy's suggestion that Carolina North be considered as a location has not been thoughtfully discussed.  So, I end this post with my most oft-used question: I wonder why?

Of course, we all KNOW why, don't we?


Last night at UNC's presentation to the Chapel Hill Town Council, I pointed out that the Horace Williams tract once held a small toxic waste landfill, why not utilize this central location for waste management again?

Yes, I thought this area was (in part at least) once a brownfield.  In my previous post, I listed a transfer station as a possibility (which only needs 15 acres). However, a small landfield would be even better, again, this time--state-of-art, as low impact as humanly possible, "real" finely-constructed brick barrier walls (not chain-link), very large buffers, etc.  The original OC purchase of property on the south side of Eubanks was only 80 acres, and the current landfield does not use 80 acres as some of this land houses other facilities.  Of course, over the years, OC has increased its property ownership--the Neville tract, for example, adjacent to Mrs. West's property, and the Deng property, I believe. 

Thanks for raising this issue, Ruby.


if not to help solve some of the pressing problems of our time?  Solid waste is certainly a problem in search of a real solution. UNC should take this on as a research experiment. I have no doubt they would succeed if the effort was there. It would be a great contribution to our community, society in general, and a strong statement that they are interested in the nuts and bolts of a sustainable future and not just serving the engineers of profit. 

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