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Lessons from Ohio: Weak Laws Govern the Waste Industry

August 29, 2006

A recent a letter in the Gazette from an Ohio citizen, rightfully pointed out the effects of living with a nearly unregulated solid waste site. Ohio residents have a real problem: Ohio laws that govern waste are among the weakest in the nation. And Ohio has 71 waste landfills.

Ohio has no state requirement for environmental review or site plan analysis of locations proposed for disposal or transfer of municipal solid waster or construction and demolition debris waste.

Nor does Ohio’s state legislature appear eager to enact tougher regulation of what has become a profitable state-wide industry. The only review of waste sites in Ohio is left to under-funded local health departments, requiring landfills to avoid contact with drinking water aquifers.

Ohio Democrats have introduced bills to provide oversight for the location and processing of waste for years. The Republican majority in the Ohio legislature have repeatedly rejected the adoption of an environmental review process.

Waste industry magazines cite Ohio as being among the most desirable states to which to ship waste, due to the ease with which new landfills can be licensed for operation in Ohio and to the state’s proximity to the crowded Northeast, a net exporter of waste.

Ohio provides us a poignant example of why strict environmental oversight standards for all waste operations are critical and why the regulation of such land uses must be upheld at all levels of government. In short, Ohio has far less stringent controls in place than in New York.

In Croton, we are faced with the real possibility of an unregulated waste transfer station where waste is shipped by rail—not a landfill. Nevertheless, the Ohio experience points to why we must protect Croton from any kind of waste operation over which there is no local, county and state oversight.

— Ann Gallelli, Charlie Kane, Leo Wiegman, Trustees, Village of Croton-on-Hudson

On August 29, 2006 7:47 PM, weewill said:

Key facts in this letter point out that the difficulties our friends in Ohio are experiencing come from different conditions than those with which our board is currently dealing.

1) The difficulties referred to in the letter from the activists in Ohio result from the operation of a Landfill, not a transfer station. A Landfill is very different in that waste is deposited and left, probably forever - not transfered out to other sites.

2) As stated above by our three democratic trustees, Ohio is known to have the weakest and most casual permitting requirements. In truth, restrictions and oversight is virtually non-existent and unregulated.

3) Clearly, waste haulers will flock to a state where review and oversight is under-funded and ineffective and permits are easily obtained to operate without stringent rules and regulations. Seventy One landfills are a huge number with which to deal.

Our Village Board has pledged to look at every possible option to make certain an unregulated waste operation does not operate in Croton. They are wise to consider all avenues to further that commitment and I am confident they will succeed. They are showing proactive leadership in that they are investigating, exploring, listening and talking with the best legal minds in the business. I’m grateful for their energy and commitment and applaud their thoroughness.

— Georgianna


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