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County Commission meeting draws a crowd Featured

County Commission meeting draws a crowd

Opposing deep injection disposal

The Jackson County Commissioners moved their monthly meeting Tuesday night from their commission meeting room to the Jackson County Extension office.  The move was made to accommodate the turnout expected to express their opposition to Waste Management’s request for a permit to drill a deep injection disposal well at Springhill Landfill in Campbellton.  The crowd heard from representatives of Waste Management, DEP, local resident Chad Taylor and a host of those present in the audience.  

County Commissioner Jim Peacock fired question after question at the speakers with Commissioner Chuck Lockey following suit.  

Senator George Gainer was in attendance and when asked to speak, he said, “Obviously, everybody here has better things to do on a Tuesday night than to come down here and hear about all this, but I appreciate you being here. I appreciate you being concerned about your future, your children’s future. A lot of this leachate, I understand is coming from Dothan and Okaloosa County.  Is that right?  So, we’re really importing the problem we’re looking at? I’d like to ask Mr. Dean what is the capacity of our treatment plant now?”

City Manager Jim Dean answered, “The City of Marianna’s capacity is currently four million gallons a day. We are presently just under one million a day so we are at about 24 percent of our capacity.” 

Senator Gainer replied, “You have a lot of capacity left?”  Dean said, “Yes, sir.”

Senator Gainer asked, “Is it more expensive in your opinion, I don’t know if you know the answer to this or not, to drill a well and to go through what they’re proposing?  

Jim Dean readily admitted he could not answer that question.

Senator Gainer: I can get someone to answer that later on, thank you. I’d like to say as far as the Senator from District 2, that the people I met with here tonight, the majority don’t want this well, and that will be where I stand on this thing tonight, tomorrow, and the next week.” Gainer was given a huge round of applause from the audience.   

Jackson County Administrator Ernie Padgett spoke, “Commissioners this is just a point of clarification because I think I must have misunderstood what the DEP gentleman that presented first said. Did you make a statement that the area of water treatment plants are at a max? Did you say that? That’s what I wrote down that you said. So we already found out that Marianna is at 25 percent capacity. I know y’all hauled over to Okaloosa County because I was the administrator over there. So was that a misstatement or did I misunderstand you?”

The Waste Management representative answered, “Yes, when I said that they were maxed out I was referring to the amount of leachate that they can accept from us and that they told us they would accept. Not the total capacity of the plant. So currently we are taking three loads a day I believe to the City of Marianna and that’s what we have been limited to. If we could take 10 loads a day to the City of Marianna we would do it. Right now, what we have been limited to three loads a day.  So, we have to take two loads to Okaloosa County and another load to Sneads. Then I also have to take some to Blakely, Georgia.”

Padgett asked, “Does Okaloosa County make the same statement that you can only bring three? I was over there three years ago and we were taking everything y’all brought over to our water treatment plant.”

Waste Management’s reply, “We’ve always been at Okaloosa, we’ve also been limited to three loads per day. That’s the max Okaloosa would take.”

Padgett countered with, “Let me ask because myself and vice-chairman Clint Pate met with DEP reps, some who are here tonight and also water management. We asked “How many of these same type wells are in the state of Florida?” The response we got, you said ‘two.” Did I misunderstand you?

Someone answered, “Four, two owned by Waste Management.”  Padgett again said, “You said, those wells, one was put in in 2010 and the other in 2007, is that correct? I just want to make sure that was accurate going back and forth.”

The DEP representative said, “Absolutely we appreciate that. There’s the four wells. The two that Waste Management owns, one was 2009, and the other was 2015. The two other wells were 1993 and 2011. So, it would be 1993, 2009, 2011, and 2015.”

Padgett replied, “Okay, the way I remember it, y’all said one well was down near Lake Okeechobee, one was somewhere in Charlotte County or somewhere just below that. Is that where the two wells are?”

The DEP representative said that the one in Charlotte was the 1993 well.

Padgett said that he had taken notes and it was 2010 and the other one 2007, with DEP responding that they would provide clarification. 

Padgett said, “Also, you talk about the test well. In fact, that well is THE well right? If it gets that far the leachate will be pumped down in there. But that’s not the second well, right?”  DEP confirmed with, “Right.” 

Padgett referred to the charts on the screen, “So, what we see up here is the well?  So, it’s not like y’all are going to put a test well in and then later another well, this will be a $5 million-dollar investment Waste Management is making?” 

The DEP representative said, “I can’t comment on the dollars that waste management is investing, but the well that will be injected for exploratory purposes, provided all the showings over the testing process required, yes.”

Padgett, “Let me ask you something while you’re up here with DEP, historically the wells that y’all monitor in the state, do y’all totally rely on Waste Management to draw the sample, to pay the consultant, they pay them. Then they pay actually the third party. Do y’all ever just show up and take samples of your own? Or do you totally rely on the profiteer and company to pay one of their consultants to furnish y’all the test? Do y’all ever go take your own samples.”  The DEP representative said, they had the power to do their own inspections but fell short of saying they actually did their own testing. 

It was later Dean who brought a round of applause from the crowd when he rebutted a statement made by the Waste Management representative.  It was stated that Marianna’s system was only at 24%, leaving room for 76% more waste.  The Waste Management representative countered with that although Marianna was only at 24%, they (Waste Management) was only allowed to haul three trucks a day to their facility, as had been the rule for some time.  Dean stated that Waste Management has hauled as many as seven trucks a day and on a regular basis and had not been told they could not bring seven into the Marianna treatment facility.  

Arthur Obar from Graceville had a question for the DEP representative, “Has this been given a rubber stamp?”  DEP replied it had not.  

NAACP President Ronstance Pittman spoke, stating she had letters from both the City of Marianna and the City of Sneads stating they were not at capacity at their treatment facilities and that no limit had been placed on the number of trucks delivering daily.  

J. P. Williams had a short and to the point request, “Monitor the monitors.”   

Tom Batey, Conservation Technician for Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District opposes the permitting by DEP.  He stated to the TIMES, “Pumping a foreign substance beneath the aquifer can only lead to pollution problems in the future.  And when this becomes a problem, farmers again will probably be blamed like they have been in the past for everything else. 

For those who would like to contact key people to express their opposition to the permit being granted,  below is a list of contacts and their email addresses, most of whom serve on the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, the Board members of the Northwest Florida Management District, and the Governor. 

Senate leaders:

 Water Management Board:


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