In the hands of the Ohio EPA: residents voice fears over WIN Waste expansion plans
BY Sheri Trusty, Seneca County Media Relations Coordinator
Well over 400 people attended an informational and public comment hearing at Stacy’s Place on Feb. 5 to voice to the Ohio EPA their fear and anger over a proposed expansion of WIN Waste Innovations’ landfill in Fostoria, formerly called Sunny Farms Landfill. The meeting gave the public the opportunity to express their opinions on permit applications submitted to the Ohio EPA by WIN Waste Innovations. If approved, the permits would allow the landfill to expand to 479.8 acres and accept 12,000 tons of waste per day, most of which is out-of-state waste.
With the expansion, the landfill would become one of the largest municipal landfills in the nation.
Seneca County Commissioner Anthony Paradiso made a logical appeal to the Ohio EPA. He asked them to postpone their decision until the Seneca County Board of Health could collect more data on the landfill’s impact on the community.
“Can we slow this process down…get the data and make an educated decision,” Paradiso said.
Paradiso asked the Ohio EPA to delay their decision until the Seneca County Board of Health has completed a comprehensive environmental impact study that will provide a wide-scope measurement of the landfill’s effect on the quality of life of local residents.
“The Board of Health also has commissioned an environmental impact study to identify and evaluate the harm the landfill expansion will cause,” said Seneca County Board of Health President, Dr. Clay Wolph. “If approved, the landfill expansion will negatively impact Seneca County residents’ quality of life, water, air and property values.”
Wolph lives in Fostoria, and his family has dealt with the detrimental impact of the landfill for years. Like Paradiso, he asked the Ohio EPA to stay their decision until the environmental impact study is complete.
“We request that Ohio EPA not act on the expansion until it has the benefit of our environmental impact study to evaluate the additional damage this expansion would cause Seneca County,” Wolph said.
During his comments to the Ohio EPA, State Rep. Gary Click expressed frustration that WIN Waste could be approved for expansion when it is still operating under a consent order, which he explained as having “special permission not to follow state laws.”
“Until you can actually follow the laws without special permission, without a consent order, there should not be an expansion,” Click said.
After the hearing, Seneca County Commissioner Bill Frankart talked about local residents’ confusion that WIN Waste could be approved for expansion when it has a long history of noncompliance to Ohio EPA requirements.
“Until they can prove long-term that they can comply with regulations, they should not be allowed to expand,” Frankart said. “We want to work with the health department to get more boots on the ground to have more oversight of the landfill and make sure they are heading toward more compliance.”
All three Seneca County Commissioners are opposed to the expansion and were in attendance at the hearing.
“We want to show our support. We stand with our citizens here in the county. This expansion will be very impactful to local citizens,” Frankart said.
Seneca County Commissioner Tyler Shuff also shared his concerns about the expansion.
“It was very important to me to be present with my fellow commissioners to hear the issues and concerns of our residents we represent,” Shuff said. “Our biggest job is to be their voice and stand up for our citizens.”
Paradiso implored the Ohio EPA to remember that they, too, need to stand up for all the citizens potentially affected by the expansion, not just those that work within the perimeter of the landfill. He asked the Ohio EPA to delay a decision until they obtain the results of the environmental impact study. Without that data, the Ohio EPA does not have sufficient information to make an informed decision.
“What’s the hurry? Really, what’s the hurry?” Paradiso said. “This is not about that little area in the landfill and what they’re doing. It’s about quality of life and the big picture. I think that’s what the EPA’s job is.”