Maybe we should stop inviting toxic industries to Lowndes County. We’ve been doing that with coal ash, PCBs, superfund wastewater, used diapers in recycling, and suing local businesses while not terminating an exclusive franchise with a company that is involved in all of that. Not to mention Sterling Chemical.
Here in Lowndes County we have TVA coal ash and Florida coal ash in our landfill, and the landfill operator spreads the coal ash on roads on the site, which is just uphill from the Withlacoochee River. GA EPD fined that landfill operator $27,500 in January 2013 for accepting PCBs into that same Pecan Row Landfill. The same landfill that accepted 196,500 gallons of wastewater from the Seven Out Superfund site in Waycross, GA.
A landfill that is in an aquifer recharge zone. For the Floridan Aquifer, the source of all our drinking water.
Yet the Lowndes County Commission granted an exclusive franchise to that same landfill operator, ADS, and sued a local business for competing with it. After a judge said Lowndes County can’t make a monopoly, ADS appealed, and the County Commission joined that appeal on a 3 to 2 vote, with Commissioners John Page and Demarcus Marshall voting against.
Even though the City of Valdosta had stopped taking recycling from ADS because ADS put household trash, including used diapers in its alleged recycling. Later we learned from Commissioner Demarcus Marshall that ADS is nor providing an annual report nor a recycling rebate, even though both are required in that exclusive franchise. That exclusive franchise has a termination clause, but the County Commission has so far refused to consider exercising it.
Remember the first starting point for the Sabal Trail pipeline we heard was PCB-contaminated Anniston, Alabama, the place Monsanto left perhaps more toxic than any other city in the country. Although with that $15 million fine for 89 pipeline PCB spills, who knows where else Spectra Energy left contaminated?
Wouldn’t a county that accepts superfund wastewater, coal ash, and PCBs into its landfill in an aquifer recharge zone, that makes an exclusive contract with the landfill operator, that sues a local business about that contract and even appeals, that does nothing about that landfill operator violating that exclusive franchise; wouldn’t such a county sound like a great place to run a hazardous fracked methane pipeline through a drinking water aquifer?
That’s without even digging up the 1990s Lowndes County Commission decision to bring in Sterling Chemical. As the VDT reminded us again 3 March 2014,
the entire county commission was voted out of office following the decision to bring Sterling Chemical Co. to the community.
Sterling, known today as Erco Worldwide, remains here but the wounds the battle over the industry left community-wide were far-reaching and deep.
County Commission terms got staggered since then so that can’t happen again, but there’s an election going on right now. Incumbent Demarcus Marshall runs unopposed for District 4, and three other seats do not have an incumbent running. Two of those seats will be decided May 20th.
District 2 will be decided at the primary on May 20th, between Jody Powell (R) and Scott Orenstein (R).
District 3 is down to two candidates, Mark Wisenbaker (R) and Tom Hochschild (D).
District 5 will be decided in a nonpartisan special election May 20th, among Norman Bennett, Clay Griner, and Gretchen Quarterman.
Four of these candidates spoke Saturday. Video to come.
And don’t forget who’s running for the county school board and for the state legislature. Remember who voted for toxic industries in Lowndes County and who has repeatedly spoken up against that.