Mega-Landfill in Cumberland County

the area of Cumberland County proposed for the Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility and its access road was primarily forest
the area of Cumberland County proposed for the Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility and its access road was primarily forest
Source: Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, Community Meeting Presentation

A mega-landfill has been proposed several times for Cumberland County. In 2006, the Cumberland Board of Supervisors approved a proposal by Allied Waste (later Republic Services) for a new landfill handling 5,000-7,000 tons per day. The company did not proceed to construction before a major economic recession began in 2007, and development plans were suspended.

In 2018, the Cumberland County supervisors approved a separate landfill, the Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility. County Waste of Virginia planned to build a mega-landfill that would accept municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris (CDD) waste, and disaster waste on a site near the border with Powhatan County. Hazardous waste and sludge would not be accepted. Sheetrock was also banned, since the sulphur in decomposing gypsum can create unacceptable odors.

Trash would be accepted from within 500 miles, including from sites outside of Virginia. The company emphasized that it expected to use the landfill primarily for trash that it already collected in Virginia from its existing 300,000 customers, but wanted the flexibility to import trash from other sources "should the market shift dramatically in the future - like it did in 2008 when the bottom fell out."

The company proposed to excavate about 30 feet deep, install liners that would seal off the cells filled with waste, and deposit enough material over 35 years to build mounds 250' high.1

after 35 years, the top of the landfill will be 250 feet higher than the surrounding land
after 35 years, the top of the landfill will be 250 feet higher than the surrounding land
Source: Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, Community Meeting Presentation

As proposed, the landfill would operate 24 hours-day on Tuesday-Friday, with shorter hours on Saturday and Monday. No trash would be accepted on Sunday.

The new landfill would allow County Waste of Virginia to become more vertically integrated. After developing the Green Ridge facility in Cumberland County, the company could stop paying competitor Waste Management to use that company's mega-landfill in adjacent Amelia County.

Residents of both Powhatan County and Cumberland County objected to rezoning parcels totaling 1,143 acres to Industrial (M-2) and granting a conditional use permit (CUP) for the Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility. They expressed concerns regarding smell, traffic, noise, and land values. Opponents highlighted that the Amelia County landfill had space remaining for up to 150 more years of trash disposal.

Though 80% of the 250 trucks/day trucks carrying municipal solid waste would use Route 60 in Powhatan County, local officials in Powhatan County had no authority over the proposed facility. Cumberland County officials were responsible for rezoning the location to authorize a landfill, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had authority to approve the landfill if it complied with state regulations, and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) was responsible for managing the additional traffic on Route 60.

The five members of the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors recognized that the landfill would increase county revenues substantially. The county lacked a skilled workforce and was located far from an interstate highway, so it had little potential for attracting job-creating businesses which would generate higher property taxes. Farming and forestry had been the primary land uses in Cumberland County for the last 250 years, and those activities generated only low property taxes.2

Cumberland County's distance from interstate highways and markets limited the ability to attract new businesses
Cumberland County's distance from interstate highways and markets limited the ability to attract new businesses
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

County Waste of Virginia advertised it would create 30 local jobs, and:3

Green Ridge will pay Cumberland County $1.3 to $2.7 million each year through a host fee to operate their facility and the host fees will increase over time when adjusted for inflation. The annual host fees that are collected will likely result in a 10% to 20% increase in local revenue for Cumberland County, providing the County with long-term financial stability and the ability to invest into any Capital Improvement Projects they deem necessary.

The landfill developer also stated:4

Green Ridge will also offer free waste and recycling disposal at its facility, allowing the County to close at least one of its convenience centers, saving more than $300,000 each year.

To minimize local opposition, County Waste of Virginia announced it was willing to purchase at full fair market value any property adjacent to the landfill site or access road, and would consider buying other parcels where property wners feared the landfill would impact land values.

The Cumberland County Board of Supervisors approved the proposed landfill in 2018 by a 3-2 vote. The chair of the board commented:5

It's just really, really hard to turn down a business that’s offering the kind of money flow they are...

The proposed location of the landfill was next to Pine Grove School, one of the Rosenwald Schools built in the South to educate black students when schools were legally segregated by race. Opponents raised concerns about environmental justice, suggesting that placing the landfill near minority-race residents was an unfair burden on their community.

In addition, possible gravesites that may be associated with former enslaved workers on a pre-Civil War Cumberland County plantation were identified on the landfill property.6

Maplewood Recycling and Waste Disposal Facility in Amelia County

Mega-Landfills in Virginia

in its rezoning aplication, County Waste of Virginia claimed it had selected to most suitable site in Cumberland County for a landfill
in its rezoning aplication, County Waste of Virginia claimed it had selected to most suitable site in Cumberland County for a landfill
Source: Cumberland County, Application for Change in Zoning

Links

Cumberland County officials could approve the Green Ridge mega-landfill independent of any objections by Powhatan County
Cumberland County officials could approve the Green Ridge mega-landfill independent of any objections by Powhatan County
Source: Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, Project Description

References

1. "Highlights of Proposed Cumberland County Development Company Landfill," Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, June 2009, https://www.deq.virginia.gov/Portals/0/DEQ/Resources/Factsheets/GetTheFacts_CumberlandLandfill060409.pdf; "Questions from 6.14.18 Meeting," Cumberland County, http://www.cumberlandcounty.virginia.gov/ (last checked July 25, 2018)
2. "Cumberland landfill, fiercely opposed by locals, would be state’s first new mega dump in two decades," Virginia Mercury, July 24, 2018, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/07/24/cumberland-landfill-fiercely-opposed-by-locals-would-be-states-first-new-mega-dump-in-two-decades/; "Operations," Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, http://greenridgeva.com/operations.html; "Large crowd voices concerns about possible landfill," Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 12, 2018, http://www.richmond.com/news/local/central-virginia/powhatan/powhatan-today/large-crowd-voices-concerns-about-possible-landfill/article_7d7cae86-6eb4-11e8-bf23-7f630cf82d74.html; "Cumberland Planning Commission defers landfill issue again," Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 25, 2018, https://www.richmond.com/news/local/central-virginia/powhatan/powhatan-today/cumberland-planning-commission-defers-landfill-issue-again/article_7b3e19a4-78b7-11e8-9e81-076f09cb1f65.html (last checked July 24, 2018)
3. "Project Benefits," Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, http://greenridgeva.com/benefits.html (last checked July 24, 2018)
4. "Proud to partner with Cumberland County," Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, May 25, 2018, http://www.cumberlandcounty.virginia.gov/sites/default/files/2018-05/One-Pager%20Final%205.24.18.pdf (last checked July 24, 2018)
5. "Questions from 6.14.18 Meeting," Cumberland County, http://www.cumberlandcounty.virginia.gov/; "Cumberland landfill, fiercely opposed by locals, would be state’s first new mega dump in two decades," Virginia Mercury, July 24, 2018, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/07/24/cumberland-landfill-fiercely-opposed-by-locals-would-be-states-first-new-mega-dump-in-two-decades/ (last checked July 25, 2018)
6. "‘It’s not right:’ Cumberland residents say planned landfill will disturb historic school, possible burial grounds," Virginia Mercury, September 26, 2018, https://www.virginiamercury.com/2018/09/26/its-not-right-cumberland-residents-say-planned-landfill-will-disturb-historic-school-burial-grounds/ (last checked September 26, 2018)


Landfills in Virginia
Municipal Solid Waste in Virginia
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