Commit to clean air for communities near the South Wake Landfill

Commit to clean air for communities near the South Wake Landfill

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Garrett Raczek started this petition to Holly Springs Town Council and

For almost three decades now, the people of Holly Springs have been advocating for their right to clean air. In an effort to prioritize people and their health, we must boldly address the impact that the South Wake Landfill has on our community.

An abridged history of the South Wake Landfill (source for all information below, unless noted otherwise):

  • The siting and permitting for the landfill began in the early 1990s. These efforts were led by the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
  • Wake County has exhibited a pattern of placing landfills near predominantly African-American communities. In the early 90s, around 75% of Holly Springs was African-American (source), making it the municipality with the highest percentage of African Americans in Wake County.
  • The South Wake Landfill joined four other landfills located either within or near Holly Springs' borders.
  • Even though the Holly Springs Town government initially granted permission to the county to build the landfill in 1992 (largely in exchange for sewage infrastructure), many of our residents from across the town pushed back. Specifically, members of our community living in predominantly African American portions of town bravely fought for their right to clean air and environmental justice by filing a lawsuit in North Carolina's Circuit Court of Appeals. These efforts were ultimately unsuccessful in stopping the construction of the landfill. 
  • After its initial support from a previous town council/mayor, the construction of the landfill was unsuccessfully opposed by new leadership in our town.
  • The landfill opened its doors for operation in February of 2008, accepting solid waste from all 12 municipalities within Wake County.

The current reality we face (source for all information came from attending a landfill tour. More general information about the landfill can be found here):

  • The landfill is 1/3 full right now and is approximately 200 feet high. It is expected to reach full capacity around the year 2043, standing over 500 feet tall.
  • The town of Holly Springs was advised to not zone for residential neighborhoods within a 1/2 mile of the landfill. Today, there are homes 900 feet away.
  • When members of the community raise concerns about the landfill, they are regularly encouraged to report the odors immediately using this feedback form. In 2019, on average, there were 1.6 to 4.4 complaints per day (averages vary by month).
  • Pressure from the the town and members of the community has led the county to pursue odor mitigation strategies by: installing more well pumps to capture landfill gas; installing automated gas wellheads that can respond to changes in weather conditions; and releasing an app that better allows members of the community to report malodors.
  • The NC Department of Environmental Quality conducts periodic testing of air quality around the landfill. An air quality report from 2018 (scroll to "Environmental Indicators" section) shows that the area surrounding the landfill is in the 81st percentile in particulate matter, meaning it's particulate matter is equal to or higher than 81% of the other areas that were tested (PM 2.5 signifies particulate matter small enough to get into one's lungs and cause adverse consequences for one's health, particularly for our more vulnerable populations like elderly residents and children).
  • Around 140 to 150 trucks tip waste at the South Wake Landfill each day (that's around 4,000 trucks per month).
  • Wake County has not identified a site for the second solid waste landfill that will replace the South Wake Landfill.

What we are asking:

  1. Our community should feel confident about the quality of the air we are breathing. Concerns about hydrogen sulphide, particulate matter, and pollution from diesel trucks heading to the landfill are real. In an effort to gather more data, the Town of Holly Springs should purchase and install air quality sensors in those neighborhoods closest to the landfill. The frequent testing of air quality will provide us with more data to advocate for change.
  2. The Town of Holly Springs should refrain from zoning land as residential if it is in close proximity to the landfill, in accordance with initial recommendations from engineers.
  3. The Town of Holly Springs should preserve and replace adequate tree buffers, in partnership with the South Wake Landfill's tree planting program.
  4. Wake County should identify the next site for the county's solid waste landfill. This will ease pressures to expand the life of the South Wake Landfill.
  5. Wake County should continue to invest in the needed infrastructure for mitigating odors.  It should also prioritize the most effective strategies, such as using dirt to cover the waste, even though this strategy may decrease the life of the landfill given that dirt fills the landfill at a faster rate. This strategy is effective and more environmentally friendly than spraying vaporizers over the waste.
  6. Wake County should explore capturing more renewable energy rather than releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which happens when it burns excess methane.

And with that, I hope you consider signing this petition. There are some good people both at the landfill and in town who are doing important work to protect our community. Let's build off of their efforts to ensure that all members of our community can be confident in the air that we and our loved ones are breathing.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!