Rogers Road Community Complaint to the EPA

The Rogers Road Community has received a letter from the EPA accepting the neighborhoods environmental justice complaint against Orange County and will start an official investigation.  It has been 2 years since the complaint was filed.

The Commissioners should take note of this on December 7th.  There is much evidence to back up this claim.



I want to thank Mayor Chilton and the Carrboro BOA for passing a unanimous resolution against siting the transfer station on Millhouse Road.  I hope this resolution along with the EPA decision to start a full invenstigation helps to convince OC BOCC commissioners, Jacobs, Hemminger, Pelissier and Yuhasz from making a choice that consigns Orange County to be on the wrong side of environmental justice by again stepping on the necks of the Rogers/Eubanks Road community.

dumps on other people somewhere.

No other community has had 37 years of OC garbage.  It kind of like 37 one year deployments to a war zone.  You would think if someone had to go, it would be someone else's turn.  For that reason alone, Franklin and Columbia would be a better choice than Millhouse.But I have always agreed that another landfill is a more honest solution.  But the political difficulty to site one is exponentially tougher.

In war, an individual goes to take their turn. In this instance, we're talking about land--fixed, immovable land. I understand the commitment people have to the land, and the heartache of losing that heritage. But the bottom line is that people can move, and they can create new memories. I simply do not understand how anyone can advocate for destroying another portion of the earth to expand the existing landfill or create a new one instead of containing the mess we've already made in the already ruined portion. The earth cannot move. We cannot continue destroying it bit by bit or there won't be anything left for the future.I know I will once again be called a racist for saying this. I'm not though. I just see a future in which our children and our children's children do not have clean water and unsullied land to live out their dreams.

Terri, there is no reason that this community has to lose its heritage to save the environment.  Locating the transfer station elsewhere will not be the end of our environment.   The problem is that OC and the local politicians have made very bad decisions or ignored making decisions for so long and are too willing to make the Rogers Road community pay for their political sins.  We are humans and it is completely unnecessary to have to sacrifice our humanity  and this  long time oppressed neighborhood to to save the environment. Asking the Roger Road community to give up their heritage, land and homes to the advantage of the wealthy  diminishes all of us. Therefore, the decision itself becomes at its core an act of environmental racism no matter what is in the hearts of the commissioners voting that way. In the end actions, not words or intent are what matters.The analogy still works.

I respect your opinions, Dave, and your commitment to the Rogers Road community. But I disagree with your assessment. If siting the transfer station on Millhouse will further damage the Rogers Road community, then by default we should expect equal damage to any other neighborhood, and it's surrounding environment. That would mean we lose our humanity regardless of what decision is made, including send our trash to Durham.

How about a commercial instead of neighborhood location?  The old, unused Crown Volvo location for starters wouldn't harm anyone.

There is one fact that can not be disputed or minimized.  The Rogers Road/Eubanks Road community has had the garbage for 37 years. No other community in Orange County can make that claim.  They have done their tours of duty for Orange County.


Not quite sure where you are advocating putting it. But the Millhouse sites are not on existing destroyed areas. They will be destroying new portions of the earth if they put it anywhere in the county.You can't expect all the people that live in the Rogers Rd area to move out and create new memories. There are to many people living there many of whom cannot afford to create new memories. They have already started construction of a huge apartment complex across the street from the Eubanks park and ride lot and closer than the Rogers Rd area to the Millhouse Rd sites. Should we expect to stop construction of that project. I'm sure these new Millhouse rd sites are a complete surprise to the developerss.  Also there is a roundabout at the new Elmentary school that will be extremely dangerous if a steady stream of garbage truks coming off old 86 passes though this rotary. Imagine what a garbage truck coul do in a head on collision with a school bus full of Elementary students.

Suzanne Haff here, and I agree with both Dave and Mark. However,  Dave did give us an alternative and Mark did not.This peaked my curiousity. I'm interested in knowing what those of you who are interested would suggest we do with our trash. What does UNCCH do with their trash? Thanks for your comments.

If Orange County made an ill-advised decision to dump our waste in some poor community in West Virginia or Virginia or wherever, it would be ethically the same as dumping on an Orange County community.If the site off of Millhouse Rd. was chosen - the one that is not part of the Rogers Rd. community - then specific routes would be designated so that no trucks would come in from west Eubanks or Rogers Rd. Neither the school or Rogers Rd. would feel the effects. Especialy since the landfill traffic would be done.  

Garbage trucks are not suppose to travel Rogers Road now, but they do.  All open refuse trucks are suppose to have tarps, but they don't.  Result? Trash on front lawns and in the street...    No trucks would come in from the west?  Dream on...  And the folks on Rogers and Eubanks are the only ones who have to  live with the consequences of broken promises, lies, and unenforced rules. 

From Millhouse east on Eubanks there is a new apartment complex being built and an old (1977) neighborhood - Northwood - whose houses back up to Eubanks Road. East Eubanks now has all the buses coming and going to the Transportation Center on Eubanks and all the employees who work there. In addition, the regional traffic plan has a regional rider hub location across the street from the proposed WTS site and the Park and Ride is now located on "East Eubanks". Imagine when Carolina North is built out and that hub is servicing those who work there. Is the WTS congruent with such a congested site? Either way you go, Millhouse/Eubanks is a poor choice for the proposed Waste Transfer Station. 

If OC follows through with their decision to transport trash to wherever outside of OC then that community will realize a percentage of the money generated for every ton brought in which goes to their county revenue coffers helping them educate their children and provide services to their community. OC will get no contribution to their schools or services if we continue dumping here. It all goes into the landfill administration.It's obvious most citizens in OC don't want a landfill (witness the 90's landfill search) in their backyard so maybe it is best to move it out as the county has already decided. The reason they devided to move it out was they could not find a site that was acceptable to it's citizens. It's also pretty obvious to a majority that it is unfair to put it on either of the Millhouse rd. sites.

A well conceived process to site a small landfill in an Economic Development District would be incomparable to the debacle that ensued in the early 90's. Absolutely no comparison. 

Large or small Orange County citizens DO NOT want a landfill in their back yard. If you tried to site a small landfill, you would get the same reaction as the site search in the 90's. Basically every neighborhood would be up in arms. Witness the reaction to both the landfill site search in the 90's and a really small transfer station search recently in the County. The reaction was highly negative in both cases.

I think you may be misreading folks regarding the transfer station. I for one, live in Northwood and what I know if that besides the trucks we now have carrying trash to the dump (they will now carry trash to the transfer station), there will be the same amount of trash being trucked from the transfer station to some other locale. Thus twice the large truck traffic in the back yard of many of my neighbors. I think that they have had the trucks for 37 years and deserve a break. It is small compared to the degredation of the Rogers Road homes, but it is something that I believe should be shared with others in the county. The size of the site is not the only issue. 

Now would you explain to me why something like this idea never came up during the consultants' search during the last couple years? Your idea, Mark, sounds so simple and logical, what's the catch?

I am afraid there is not a lot of creativity coming out of either Solid Waste Administration or its advisory board, SWAB. We've got a kick butt recycling program that is effectively funded by the tipping fees from the landfill - as others have noted, that equation will change with a WTS no matter where it is sited.

Ideas like Mark's or others that have been floated (e.g. Waste-to-Energy) are dismissed out-of-hand as pie-in-sky or 20 years in the future or not econmically viable. 

Add in to that the apparent in-house desire for solid waste operations to be localized and you understand why  Eubanks/MH keeps coming up, even though the BoCC promised to eliminate it from consideration.


After the failed landfill search of the early 90's, the commissioners continued to procrastinate and sweep the issue under the rug. They were stung by the oppostion to a landfill in the many communities that were identified. They never appreciated that the process was so completely flawed that it was bound to fail spectacularly. (They wanted mega-landfills, 800-1500 acre sites identified, denied citizens request that waste reduction be figured in tio minimize site size, etc.) The years went by  and the conventional wisdom has been that "you can't site a landfill in Orange County". The recent attempt to address the issue has been solely about a transfer station.

Leadership or lack of it has been the root of this problem for years and contunies. The fact that we are looking at only one avenue to deal with waste is a problem as well. The consultants that we have wasted money on are in the business of building landfills and limited in their openness to other alternatives.

Wow!  Congratulations to Reverend Rogbert Campbell, Neloa Jones and the rest of the Rogers Road neighborhood.  Justice has finally prevailed after a long long fight.  This neighborhood never gave up, even in the darkest moments, and finally prevailed.  This was truely a heroic effort spaning decades.  But it is also a win for Orange County by finally  upholding the values of environmental and racial justice.  Now the commissioners should pivot and start the effort to really resolve Orange County trash issues within Orange County while being environmentally responsible.  They should look for innovative solutions such as the ones Mark proposed and to become a leader in responsible waste management.  Social justice and environmental responsibility are completely compatible goals.

Last night the BOCC decided to send our waste to Durham's transfer station  and spared burdening Orange County communities with our own transfer station. It will be interesting to learn where our waste will eventually end up and what burdens we may be transfering along with the trash.This is the best solution considering the fix we are in. Past (and some current) commissioners allowed us to end up in this dilemma and now we must do the best we can to formulate a responsible waste-handling plan while we have the interim solution of working with Durham.We will hear "waste-to-energy" as a solution. "Waste-to-energy" is an incinerator in an Armani suit. WTE will turn us into garbage addicts, turn toxins into invisible vapors, and is not in line with a sustainable future.We will see continuing advances in waste reduction and transformation of trash resources into useful products. This is the path of self-reliance and economic opportunity.  

Maybe this is the time to once again try and press for pay-as-you throw away. If people were paying by the pound for the trash they generate and the carbon credit for the miles required to dispose of that trash, perhaps they would be more willing to cooperate on local landfill.

Whenever folks have to pay for their direct actions, they adjust.

Or at least separating out compostable items and having them picked up separately.

Composting of food waste and newsprint should be done at home, IMHO. I have mixed feelings about recycling. As far as I know, it's never paid for itself. I look at my neighbors curbs on recycling day, and wonder how much packaging they could do without (drinking glasses of water from the tap instead of bottled water!) if they were actually paying the real costs of recycling. But then again, I know that convenience has to count for something with busy, active lives and recycling is definitely better than landfilling. So I remain torn on what we offer as a service and what we make people pay for.

Compositing can be challenging in densely populated urban areas, which are the types of communities which best support transit and other measures which are more conservation-oriented in other ways such as reduced energy use. Recycling does have use, because there are some things that you simply need to acquire elsewhere in order to have. Water may come out of taps, but wine doesn't without divine interaction. Much as we all like to eat fresh foods, sometimes you need to buy prepackaged items. I share your revulsion about the neighbors who buy bottled water (a conversation I have with my mother every time she visits and asks me to purchase her some bottled water), but the more precise solution there is to tax wasteful uses.

A municipal composting program would serve individuals and businesses who do not have the space to compost on their own land.  Think about how much compostable waste schools throw away, and grocery stores, coffee shops, etc.  I totally agree with Terri's "pay-as-you-go" post, but think a municipal composting program should be in place before that is implemented to help people reduce their waste.  

Orange County has a municipal composting program. They work with a commercial composter to collect food waste from local grocery stores and restaurants, but not residents. According to OC Solid Waste, they collect between 2,200-2,400 tpy of commercial food waste from 29 grocery stores, restaurants, UNC, etc. (this does not include the public schools which need help getting themselves organized to compost--hint hint). That represents about 1/3 of the total food waste that used to go to the landfill. Pretty good, I'd say. OC Solid Waste is a grossly, under-appreciated resource in this community.  Municipal composting also includes yard waste and both towns pick up leaves regularly during the fall. Carrboro composts their residents' leaves at the Public Works compound and they are free for the taking as mulch. Chapel Hill sends theirs to Eubanks Road where the county sells it by the truckload for a very affordable price.Orange County also sells residential composting bins, and this past spring sold more than 3 times as many as they normally do. However, OC SW estimates that only about 5% of residential food waste is being diverted through composting. That's where the opportunity is folks. Are you composting?

what a waste of resources - a burden we all have to bear - when water is packaged & sold like that.


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