Though a plan to build a landfill near environmentally sensitive lands in Pasco County was once thought dead, the permit has been reborn in recent months. And with a new head of the state Department of Environmental Protection, it just might be approved.
Angelo’s Aggregate Materials, Ltd. originally submitted an application for permission to operate a large municipal solid waste disposal facility (i.e. a landfill) in October 2006. But the Department of Environmental Protection (at the time led by Michael Sole) rejected (.pdf) that application in 2009, citing potential adverse environmental impacts.
This January, Gov. Rick Scott appointed former Jacksonville Port Authority member Herschel Vinyard as the new head of the Department of Environmental Protection. Though environmentalists were initially hopeful that Vinyard would prove to be a man of environmental stewardship, he has been criticized in recent months for potential conflicts of interest with his old job as a shipping exec.
With the changing of the guard at the department, Angelo’s has submitted a new application for permission to construct the landfill. Angelo’s new application has been altered, but not by much. The original request was for a 90-acre landfill, while the renewed request is only for 30 acres. But, as the permit reads, the applicant would reserve the right to expand the landfill by an additional 60 acres.
One of the biggest concerns for area residents is the impact the landfill would have on the availability of fresh water due to its proximity to the Green Swamp. Another issue is the possibility of sinkhole formation. A geotechnical investigation (.pdf) conducted by the Florida Geological Survey during the previous permit application process revealed several areas beneath the proposed landfill site that indicated potentially unstable geology.
State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, shares those concerns.
“Sen. Fasano believes that, if the revised application is approved, it will be the ‘camel’s nose under the tent,’” says Greg Giordano, Fasano’s chief legislative aide. “His concern is that no matter the landfill’s size, there will be an impact to overall groundwater recharge in the surrounding communities.”
According to Ana Gibbs, external affairs manager for the Department of Environmental Protection, Angelo’s has submitted additional information which the agency is currently reviewing. There is no timeline for the department to respond.
According to The Tampa Tribune, Angelo’s Aggregate Materials is run by the Iafrate family, which has its hands in both the cattle and construction industries.
Under the plan, somewhere between 1,800 and 3,000 tons of garbage could be hauled to the landfill site each day, which would include household and agricultural garbage, dead animals, furniture, street sweepings and industrial waste, according to a document Angelo’s submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection.
“Significant taxpayer funds, $138 million, have been invested to conserve and protect land resources involving the Green Swamp. Sen. Fasano believes that it is ill advised to permit a landfill in such a place,” says Giordano. “He is concerned that the proposed site is surrounded on three sides by conservation land.”
Fasano also points out that Pasco County has a management plan in place for solid waste disposal through its resource recovery plant, rendering the facility unnecessary.