Friday, January 11, 2002

Garbage station finished

Board of Health has to give OK

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The $2.5 million, “state-of-the-art” garbage transfer station at the former ELDA landfill in Winton Hills is built, inspected and ready for business.

        But neighborhood residents and business owners pleaded one more time Thursday with the Cincinnati Board of Health not to let the trucks start rolling.

        Thursday's committee hearing attracted dozens of residents, activists, business people and lawyers — and three of the nine Board of Health members. The full board is expected to cast a final vote on the long-debated transfer station on Jan. 22.

        “We've had a lifetime of garbage. It is time for the health department to stand up for the residents,” said long-time ELDA landfill neighbor Mary Lou Bowling.

        Lawsuits are likely regardless of how the board votes. If the board approves the station, neighbors and business owners have threatened to sue. If the board rejects the proposal, it faces the wrath of Waste Management of Ohio Inc., which built the transfer station.

        If allowed to open, the transfer station will be open 24 hours a day Monday through Friday, and from midnight to 3 p.m. Saturday. It would be closed Sunday. Waste at the transfer station would be transferred to larger trucks and sent to landfills.

        Company officials say the transfer station would handle about 350 tons of garbage per day, hauled by about 40 trucks a day. But the proposed permit would allow the company to handle up to 1,500 tons a day, which opponents said could require more than 200 trucks a day.

        Waste Management spokeswoman Kathy Trent said the company runs transfer stations in Cleveland, Columbus and many other cities. None are as sophisticated as this one, she said.

        The facility went above legal requirements to include fire and odor control systems, a leachate collection system and a loop of paved road on the property to prevent garbage trucks from lining up on city streets.

        “This is a state-of-the-art facility,” Ms. Trent said. “We hope it will be a model for transfer stations elsewhere.”

        While several board members have voiced sympathy with neighborhood opponents, city staff members have repeatedly warned the board that their ability to reject the station is limited.

        For example, staff members said Thursday there is no law allowing the board to reject the station over “environmental justice” concerns. The term describes policies intended to avoid allowing new polluting businesses in low-income, minority-populated areas already burdened with pollution concerns.


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