HEN Writes Letter to Virginia Army Corps of Engineers Calling for Action in Cumberland County, VA

August 19, 2022

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August 19, 2022

Steven VanderPloeg
Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: CENAO-WRR)

803 Front Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23510-1001

 

Dear Mr. VanderPloeg,

We are grateful for the opportunity to share our concerns regarding the proposed Green Ridge Disposal and Recycling Facility in Cumberland, County (NAO-2018-00995).

As you know, this 1,200-acre mega-landfill is proposed to operate 24 hours a day, six days a week, and add 500 daily tractor-trailers to local roads, jeopardizing the air quality, access to clean water, and residential land value for the roughly 10,000 residents of Cumberland County. Not only would the mega-landfill harm the community’s health and local businesses, but it would also be placed next to a historical landmark – the Pine Grove Elementary School, built in 1917 – that is treasured by many.

In the face of overwhelming resident concerns about the mega-landfill’s detrimental effects on their wellbeing, including pollution of their private water wells, worsened air quality and unsafe pedestrian routes due to increased oversized traffic, the DEQ has repeatedly hid behind regulatory scientific technicalities that do not prioritize environmental justice for those living nearby. We hope you will choose a different path and consider all factors, so this community has the opportunity to prosper.

A few facts for you to consider:

  • The Virginia Environmental Justice Act of 2020 requires, “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of every person, regardless of race, color, national origin, income, faith, or disability, regarding the development, implementation, or enforcement of any environmental law, regulation, or policy.”

    • “Fair treatment” is defined as “the equitable consideration of all people whereby no group of people bears a disproportionate share of any negative environmental consequence resulting from an industrial, governmental, or commercial operation, program, or policy.” This means considering the unintended effects this project will have on the health and quality of life for the surrounding community, not just economics and science.

  • There are reportedly 44 private drinking water wells within 500 feet of the proposed facility. Residents deserve access to clean water.

  • While the board continues to tout the economic benefits of this project, mega-landfills, on average, decrease the value of the land adjacent to them by 12.9%.

  • A study found, “a consistent pattern over a 30-year period of placing hazardous waste facilities in neighborhoods where low-income people and people of color live.”

    • 17.8% of Cumberland County residents live below the poverty line. The national average is 12.3%.

    • Cumberland County, VA has the second largest proportion of Black population in the state, at 32.2%.

With these facts in mind, we request the Army Corps of Engineers conduct a thorough Environmental Impact Study of the proposed project. We also request the opportunity to participate in a public hearing held by ACOE.

Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.

 

Sincerely,

The Healthcare Equality Network

  • Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr.

  • Frederick Douglass Foundation, Virginia Chapter

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