JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - At Tuesday's Jackson County Board of County Commissioners meeting, Waste Management announced it withdrew the test well permit it applied for in 2017.
The well was proposed as a way to manage treated leachate, or garbage juice, from the Springhill Landfill near Campbellton. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection was processing Waste Management's application to dig a test well 15,000 feet below the ground. Waste Management officials say this is a commonly used technology for wastewater disposal throughout Florida and the United States.
Locals had their concerns.
People began reaching out to their state lawmaker, State Senator George Gainer. Gainer began working with all parties to find a solution. Springhill Landfill is important to the region and there was a need to get rid of the wastewater, but the question that kept coming up was, "Is deep well injection the only option?"
Waste Management says at Gainer's urging, it voluntarily asked the FDEP to delay processing the permit while the company studied other options. Representatives say that study has been ongoing for two years but recently finalized when the FDEP issued an operating and air permit for Waste Management to build and operate an evaporator system. The system uses heat technology to evaporate the liquid portion of the leachate, leaving only dry by-product that will be redisposed into the landfill.
Waste Management representatives say that system is under construction now.
“This successful resolution is a credit to the leadership of Senator Gainer, Representative Brad Drake and the County Commission who engaged the various stakeholders in pursuing alternative solutions,” said Waste Management Area Vice President Domenica Farmer. “As a direct consequence of those efforts, parties were able to understand and embrace the now permitted evaporator to best serve the interests of the community and the unavoidable needs of Waste Management related to the wastewater.”
Farmer also credited Jackson County resident and NAACP representative Ronstance Pittman for her community leadership and thoughtful approach to considering other options and in helping the local community understand and support the evaporator technology.
“I’ve worked for most of my adult life trying to find solutions to problems involving government and competing interests,” said Sen. Gainer. “This case is one of the best examples of concerned citizens, the NAACP, the state environmental agency, local government and a regulated entity working patiently and cooperatively to find a solution. My hat goes off to all involved in this successful outcome, and my appreciation to Waste Management representatives for listening and being responsive to the communities’ concerns from the beginning.”
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