Proposed injection well at Jackson Co. landfill causes health concerns

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 10, 2017

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) -- Plans to dispose of landfill runoff -
or "garbage juice" as residents call it - are making a stink in Jackson County.

Residents fear a new proposal to get rid of waste water will be harmful to the community's health.

The landfill is on Highway 273 in the small town of Campbellton in Jackson County.

About 2,400 tons of garbage is dumped onto the Springhill Landfill every day. Waste Management wants to dig an injection well to dispose of the waste water generated from the landfill.

Area residents, like Ronstance Pittman, oppose it, saying the waste could contaminate the drinking water.

"It's not like the landfill is away from everybody. It's right here in our neighborhood. It's scary," Pittman said. "We already have to face the smell on a constant basis. We don't know what that's doing to our lungs, to our respiratory system. We're subjected to that already. So, we've sacrificed enough."

The proposed site for the injection well is on the landfill. The well would drop about 4,000 feet underground.

Waste management engineers say between the ground's natural clay and chalk layers, and the well's multiple layers of steel and cement, the waste would not get into the underground drinking water.

Brian Dolihite, an area engineer with Waste Management, said, "We understand the concerns. But, the engineering and the science behind this technology is sound."

Tallahassee physician, Ronald Saff, disagrees.

He says Florida's top soil is made up of lime stone, which he says allows substances to easily flow through.

"This waste water that they want to dump into this hole in the ground will contain carcinogens, arsenic, cadmium, brain poison, lead. This will undoubtedly flow into the drinking water in Campbellton residents and likely contaminate a huge swath of the Florida aquifer and potentially many more counties could be poisoned." Dr. Saff said.

"We're not going to endanger our own employees and our own families. We wouldn't do that." Said, Dolihite.

Currently, waste water from the landfill is hauled by tanker trucks to waste water treatment plants. After treatment, it's then disposed of at sprayfields, where it's sprayed directly on top of the ground.

Dolihite says using an injection well is better than the current disposal method.

Waste Management applied for a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to first get permission to dig a exploratory well. That will allow them to explore if the injection well would indeed protect the ground from contamination.

That permit has not been approved yet. If approved, Waste Management will then apply for a permit for the injection well.

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