Despite protest from residents and town employees, Holly Springs, N.C., will be home to a new landfill, the first in the state since 2004.
Wake County commissioners voted 5–2 on June 5 in favor of the South Wake Landfill, which will be built and managed by Raleigh-based Waste Industries USA Inc., a firm that provides waste collection, transfer, disposal, and recycling services to commercial, industrial, and residential customers located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Supporters say the new landfill will be more profitable than business development on the site would have been: Waste Industries expects the landfill to generate annual revenue of $6 million. Government officials are counting on saving $224 million over 25 years because the county will no longer have to ship its solid waste outside the county and pay high tipping fees.
Detractors believed the 471-acre site would generate more revenue and jobs if used for large business and industry development. The site originally was considered for construction of a 750,000-square-foot Bristol-Myers Squibb biologics facility that would have created 550 new jobs. In May, however, the company announced it would construct the facility elsewhere.
Those opposed also are concerned that the 25-year commitment with Waste Industries does not allow a town to drop out of the agreement unless all parties allow the town to do so.
According to North Carolina Solid Waste Management, the number of publicly owned landfills in the state has decreased from 113 in 1993 to 42 in 2004; tipping fees across the state also have decreased slightly.
Though the number of landfills nationwide is decreasing—according to the U.S. EPA, there were 8000 landfills in 1988, and 1767 in 2002—the nation's total solid waste capacity has remained constant because new landfills are much larger than older versions.
For more information about municipal solid waste landfills, visit www.nswma.org.