vow to deep-six
ban on dumping yard waste
that the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental
Control and the Delaware Solid Waste Authority imposed the
prohibition against dumping grass clippings, leaves and
other yard waste onto the Cherry Island Marsh landfill
without a plan for making the ban work, Brandywine Hundred
legislators said they will seek to overturn it when the
General Assembly convenes in January.
"This is a ban without a
plan. ... It's a significant amount of money for not a lot
of gain," said Representative Wayne Smith.
McWilliams said the public furor over the ban has renewed
the impetus for enacting comprehensive statewide recycling
Representative Greg Lavelle
said it is unrealistic to expect any significant number of
residents to take up composting -- one of the
environmentally-conscious methods being advocated to deal
with the material. On the contrary, he said, a larger number
will resort to 'midnight dumping' it by roadsides and in
parks while the elderly and those on fixed incomes will be
burdened with the cost of having it hauled away.
The three lawmakers spoke at
a meeting of the Council of Civic Organizations of
Brandywine Hundred on Nov. 9 at which officials of the
department and the authority attempted to convince about 125
mostly skeptical and objecting attenders that the ban will
be minimally invasive and easy to comply with.
"This is something that has
worked successfully elsewhere," said James Werner, director
of the department's Division of Air and Waste Management.
Although he acknowledged at
one point that "not all is in place yet," Werner insisted
that there is a bevy of private haulers anxiously awaiting
the opportunity to compete for the business of collecting
the material to recycle as mulch, wood chips and such. "A
lot of small businesses are going to get into it," he said.
He said he could not be
precise about what they are likely to charge, but indicated
it would be in the range of $3 to $5 a month more than the
current fee for trash collection.
Wally Kremer, chairman of the
civic council's environmental committee, said that
collection firms will soon be sending letters to their
customers "telling what they are planning."
Pasquale Canzano, the waste
authority's chief operating officer, said that because trash
collecting is a highly competitive business "haulers are
going to wait until we get closer to the deadline before
they tip their hand."
The ban is scheduled to take
effect Jan. 1.
Werner said, however, that it
will be up to a year before it will be fully enforced. The
department will focus its efforts during 2007 on educating
the public about the rationale for the ban. Primarily, that
is said to be to reduce the amount of material going into
the landfill. Yard waste accounts of about a fourth of the
volume of material now being dumped.
He added that the public
presently is confused because of misinformation and lack of
information being disseminated. "We send information to the
newspaper, but it doesn't get printed," he said.
Natural resources secretary
John Hughes earlier this year imposed a prohibition against
the authority accepting yard waste at its Cherry Island
Marsh landfill as a condition for granting a permit to
increase its height to 194 feet. Werner said that when that
limit is reached, there will be no more permits issued and a
new landfill site will have to be found in New Castle County
-- an unlikely prospect -- or the trash will have to be
shipped out of state to sites in Virginia, West Virginia or
Smith disputed the claim that
eliminating yard waste will significantly prolong the life
of the Cherry Island Marsh site. He said Hughes testified
before the legislature last spring that if yard waste is
banned the new height limit will keep the landfill in
service until 2017. If it is not banned, Smith quoted the
secretary as saying, it would require only an additional
seven feet to accommodate it until then.
Commercial trash collectors
operating north of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal are
required by law to dump at the Cherry Island Marsh site.
Trash collected in New Castle County south of the canal goes
to the Kent County landfill, which is not covered by the
yard waste ban.
Actually, there is some
question about the linking of the ban to the landfill
expansion permit. It previously was put forth as a provision
in a proposed state law mandating residential recycling. The
law was not enacted largely because of opposition from Kent
and Sussex County lawmakers.
Before that, there was a
proposal for the department to use its broad regulatory
authority to impose such a ban as an incentive to get
backing for broader recycling legislation. It was thought,
however, whether going that route could be successfully
challenged in a court suit.
In any event, Canzano told
the civic meeting that "we (the authority) fully support the
Frances West, president of
the Civic League for New Castle County, said that recycling
"is going to be a county [government] responsibility in the
near future." Although that will mean that county taxpayers
will bear the cost it should be regarded as an 'urban
service' that should be publicly financed.
Smith said that it will be
necessary to reconsider the statewide prohibition against
trash incineration. Supporting that ban several years ago,
he said, "is one of the worst votes I've cast in the General