The guest speaker during the October 14th Community Townhall Meeting shared a general overview of the DEQ process, politics play, and how the citizens can use their voice. Below are rough unofficial minutes taken during the meeting. Any questions/concerns, please either comment or email us at NoMegaLandfill@LoveCentralVa.com.
“There are two ‘baskets’ around the proposed mega landfill project. The first basket is The DEQ process and the second basket is Politics. Your place is to be active and vocal, as a concerned citizen who are opposed, during the DEQ Process Public Comment and to write letters, emails, make phone calls to the Politicians. Let’s review each ‘basket’…
The next step is for the company to file a notice of intent with DEQ, that will be followed by a Application for Site Approval which is known as Part A, then an Application for Design/Operations known as Part B in which there are many technical issues. In additional to these technical and scientific issues related to the process and the waste – some of those are hyper-technical and in order to deal with that effectively, if there were an issue, you would need outside expertise. Beyond that there are environmental issues, preservation issues, and other issues which may or may not be considered by DEQ or the boards within DEQ.
So that takes us to the other basket – of politics. Previously, involved in fights involving quarries, landfills, and of the like, very often politics will stop a project even though legal issues may not. Now obviously there are some overlap between the legal issues and the political issues …one of the principal issues that involved Goochland and Powhattan is traffic. VDOT can have a tunnel vision of sorts. They look at only one thing and will not consider the boarder implications of the traffic factor of projects such as this landfill. Goochland’s concern, Powhatan’s concern, and Cumberland’s concern – should be because of the significant burden on the roads – particularly the roadway in Powhatan. What you call the future functionality of 522, even 60 will be compromised no matter what DEQ says. We may not get DEQ to consider it and that’s why it’s an important political issue. We have four legislators …that we’ll talk about later that need to be approached. I think you need to get their addresses or email addresses and peeper each one of the these four in addition to the governors’ office. One is Mark Peake, who is your senator. The other is Tommy Wright, your member of the House of Delegates. The Delegate from Powhatan is Lee Ware and the Senator is Glen Sturtevant. Sturtevant and Ware have publicly come out in opposition and lend whatever support they can. Everybody needs to talk to them and press upon them how important it is to you and why the bureaucratic process is not considering some of these important issues.
They’re the ones that will have to come up with the money to fund road improvements. They’re the ones that will have to answer ultimately if and when this landfill creates problems that DEQ will not consider. They have a stake in this and we’ll need to let them know by your numbers, the intensity of your contacts with them. It is an important political issue that they can help to stop, regardless of the legal issues, and technical issue with DEQ. We need to focus on sooner rather than later…the sooner they get involved the better. You will have to hand hold them because they will forget, particularly as they get closer to the session. So, it will take more than a single letter or email, maybe even a phone call to their offices. So, we will ask you to continue to pepper them with your comments, thoughtful comments not just rantings, but thoughtful comments of why this is a problem. The more of that they get the more there is a sense of momentum and political exposure for any of these people. We’re close to the congressional election I’m not sure how much it would matter to get the candidates to take a position you might try to force the issue on the congressional candidates that are running. I doubt they would respond due to the short period of time before the elections but you can try. The real focus should be on those state legislators, particularly those two Senators and two Delegates. The extent you have time write the Governor too and let him know.
The operative piece of paper that will start the process formally is a joint application of the Corp of Engineers and DEQ. They process something under the Federal Clean Water Act called the 404 permit. There will be comment periods and they will be simultaneous in some cases. We’re going to ask you to comment on them as well. It’s not just enough one or two of us, all of you should be commenting as well. Comment period starts, and it will be fairly soon – sometime this fall perhaps we’ll let you know the details to whom you write, what the issues are, what the deadlines are and the more comments we can get there the better. The Corp of Engineers is down in Norfolk and they have some environmental sensitivity and we will have to provide comments of substance, we can’t just harangue them either – we have to give them a reason. Simultaneously, you can comment to DEQ on this application. As they are considering their same application, their actions won’t be simultaneous, but their review is. So, we will let you know when those comment periods occur. Those are the most important things short term. The Corp of Engineers due process will include anything that is conceivably related. Even the need for the project. Now keep all of this in mind and if you have anything else, anything that I didn’t touch on, it could be a factor.”