Resident supports "non-hazardous" landfill

Dave and Karen Hartman

It is highly disturbing when any confused person with a piece of paper and a pencil can write an ugly letter about anyone and have it published in the local newspaper, regardless of whether the letter is true or false. We have been accused of being callous, coldhearted capitalists engaged in a venture that will only result in a cruel and poisonous death to the environment, and ultimately, the people. But alas, the real toxicity involved here has been a long term systematic poisoning of the minds of the people of Assumption Parish.

Thus, it was with great sadness that I read last month's letter of opposition to the Belle Landfill, which demonstrated that the writer had formed a negative opinion of Belle Company without knowing the facts about an operational landfill. The permit granted allows for the acceptance of non-toxic, non-hazardous waste only. The facility will be monitored for compliance on a daily basis and subject to a high level of regulation by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. If any of these claims had been correct over the last fourteen years, then the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality would have never issued Belle Company, LLC a permit to operate a non-hazardous landfill. No means no, and Belle Landfill will always be a non-hazardous, non-toxic waste landfill. Belle Landfill cannot be converted to a hazardous materials landfill. Hazardous and toxic materials must go into entirely different kinds of landfills. Landfill technology has advanced tremendously in the last 50 years. There is much thought and engineering that goes into our modern landfills to make them as environmentally friendly as possible. In short, the writer of the previous letter to the editor seems only interested in spreading untruthful and alarming information.

The writer claims that our operating company, IESI, whose home office is in Texas, has no ties here in Louisiana. On the contrary, IESI currently operates 4 landfills in Louisiana, and a possible future site manager of  Belle Landfill is from Belle Rose, LA. He currently manages another landfill in another state and wants to return home to live. It is time for some people to get their facts straight and stop talking about things they know absolutely nothing about! Frankly we are tired of the fallacious soapbox lectures that are the real source of pollution in this parish.

The letter goes on to state that we will deliberately destroy our community by putting in a landfill on property that the Churchill and Thibaut heirs have owned for generations. Why would the owners of Belle Company want to de-value any property as the same owners own thousands of acres of adjoining property? I guess some people might be happy if there were no landfills anywhere. If all the landfills in Louisiana were filled to capacity today, where would we put all of the garbage? Every single person produces 4.5 pounds of garbage each and every day. As a nation, we produce 445 million tons each year, and it's getting worse every year. These statistics are staggering, so there is a definite need for landfills. What shape would New Orleans be in today if it hadn't been for landfills? Katrina's destructive winds generated millions and millions of tons of debris. But the author of last month's letter doesn't worry about that. Like many others, she just puts her tons of garbage on the street two times each week and ...POOF!!!...it's gone. A truck comes by, loads it up, and it goes "someplace else to another landfill!"

Regarding the accusation that we intend to take our money and run, I was born and raised here and my wife has lived here for thirty-three years. This is our home. That is why we have gone to such great lengths to insure the safety and efficiency of Belle Landfill. We breathe the same air, we drink the same water, and we have absolutely no intentions of harming anyone or anything! All Belle Company ever did was play by the rules as published in the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality's statutes for anyone applying for a Type 1 or Type 2 Landfill Permit. What our so called "shrewd lawyers" did was point this out to the courts, and two separate panels of impartial judges in two separate courts agreed with Belle Company. 

In closing, residents of Assumption Parish were offered monetary compensation by Belle Company LLC and IESI which would have benefited each and every resident prior to the police jury becoming so staunchly opposed to this landfill project. It was an amount so significant that if this landfill had been constructed at that time, every water bill would have far less than a twenty-one dollar charge for solid waste starting this September. These delays have resulted in every resident of Assumption Parish experiencing a constantly escalating bill for future solid waste removal.

Dave Hartman & Karen Waggoner Hartman