Hoosier Environmental Council Calls Out Misinformation in Gary Dump Arguments

“Gary has a long history of inadequate oversight of waste dumps, dating back to the Gary City Dump in the mid-20th century, and the Lake Sandy Jo and 9th Avenue Dump Superfund sites where massive quantities of toxic wastes were dumped in the 1970s. An ongoing example is the defunct Gary Sanitary Landfill, which was recently cited for a number of serious and chronically unaddressed violations, including open dumping . . .” Hoosier Environmental Council Statement

February 7, 2018-At a meeting scheduled for tonight, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, State Representatives Earl Harris and Vernon Smith and State Senator Lonnie Randolph will engage in a sales pitch designed to convince Gary residents that they will benefit from garbage dumps next to residential areas. Now the Hoosier Environmental Council is weighing in to set the record straight. “HB 1318 advanced in the House this session, in part, based on some misinformation provided by some of the backers of this bill” The Council said in a written statement.

“For example, the bill does not involve the question of whether homes can be demolished in Gary as some proponents claim and the bill has nothing to do with allowing sites for temporary “staging” of demolition materials for reuse or recycling. Those activities are already allowed under current law. HB 1318, rather, allows new construction of particular new landfills (i.e., “construction/demolition sites”) less than a half-mile from people’s homes. Although media reports have described the bill as necessary to further the City’s apparent plan to tear down 6,000 Gary homes, HB 1318 will not restrict waste dumped at these new landfills just to waste generated in Gary but will allow these landfills to receive waste from anywhere.”

“The city of Gary can accomplish its stated goal of demolishing abandoned homes to improve economic development opportunities without needlessly endangering the health and welfare of its citizens,” said Samuel Henderson, associate attorney for the Hoosier Environmental Council. “Instead of eliminating critically needed protections for communities from waste dumps, Gary can proceed with its expressed goal of reusing and recycling materials from demolished homes, without the need for a landfill within the city limits. Any unavoidable wastes should be safely disposed at existing sites currently permitted and operated under existing law. For these reasons, HEC is strongly encouraging public and legislative opposition to HB 1318.”

The statement points out that Gary has a long history of inadequate oversight of waste dumps, dating back to the Gary City Dump in the mid-20th century, and the Lake Sandy Jo and 9th Avenue Dump Superfund sites where massive quantities of toxic wastes were dumped in the 1970s. An ongoing example is the defunct Gary Sanitary Landfill, which was recently cited for a number of serious and chronically unaddressed violations, including open dumping and failing to prevent trees from growing on the landfill’s thin geosynthetic cover, thereby creating a number of problems, including permitting leachate to escape and flow through residential ditches, as noted in the HEC’s 2014 environmental justice needs assessment.

The Hoosier Environmental Council says that HB 1318 would undermine this prior protective law which was “enacted specifically to protect communities against the adverse effects of poorly-controlled landfills adjacent to people’s homes.”

About Hoosier Environmental Council:

Founded nearly thirty-five years ago, the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) is the largest statewide environmental policy organization in Indiana. HEC aims to advance solutions that are good for the economy and good for the environment. We encourage our readers to Like Hoosier Environmental Council on Facebook, Follow Hoosier Environmental Council on Twitter and visit http://hecweb.org for more information.

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