Don’t Waste the Green Swamp

Recently our allies at Friends of the Green Swamp brought to our attention a new proposal by Waste Management to open up a landfill in the heart of the Green Swamp.

The NC Division of Solid Waste (DSW) had issued a draft permit (SLAS 24-08) to Waste Management of Wilmington that would allow them to use 41.8 acres of Riegel Ridge’s Green Swamp property to dispose of up to 1.3 million gallons of septage waste annually. Septage is defined as a fluid mixture of untreated and partially treated sewage solids, liquids, and sludge of human or domestic origin from septic tanks, grease traps, portable toilets and commercial/industrial septage from septic tanks where water-carried waste results from the process of industry.

Now we need to follow up during the written comment period which has been extended through 5:00 p.m. on March 14, 2011. Comments should be addressed to:

Michael E. Scott, Branch Head

NC DENR-Division of Waste Management

1646 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27699-1646

You can access information about this project under the news and updates section of and you may want to look at the application criteria in the North Carolina Administrative Code 15A NCAC 13B .0830.0846.

Some questions to consider for your comments include but are not limited to:

  1. Can the 41.8 acre site assimilate up to 1.3 million gallons of septage per year? There were concerns about soil conditions, poor drainage in the area and a high water table when the landfill was being proposed.
  2. According to the permit, application of the septage may leave no standing water. How can this be done in light of the above concerns?
  3. The draft permit limits application to 50,000 gallons per acre per year on the grass/grain 11.8 acres in the first year, but the application suggests that up to 165,000 gallons per acre per year may be applied in subsequent years.
  4. The application identifies 115 acres as being suitable for septage application and Waste Management has indicated that the project may be expanded beyond the initial 41.8 acres.
  5. The application also states that the pine stands in Fields 1 and 4 will be reevaluated after two years and could be replaced with Bermuda grass fields to increase the volume of septage that could be applied. Is there a potential of 115 acres at 165,000 gals per acre per year?
  6. What controls will be used to prevent runoff or migration of wastes off of the designated site, as required by the permit, and what is the effectiveness history of these controls?
  7. How will spray drift be contained within the permitted area as required by the permit?
  8. How will contamination of groundwater be prevented? What will be done to insure that hydraulic loading is such that it will percolate and be used by the vegetation in order to prevent surface water runoff into ditches and/or discharge into the aquifers?
  9. Who will do the monitoring/testing and will any findings be shared with the public?
  10. Waste Management says no industrial waste will be applied, but that category is checked on the application and is noted in the permit.
  11. What about contaminants not removed in the typical water treatment process, such as pathogens, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, solvents, etc.?
  12. Columbus County Commissioners’ concerns: close proximity to Lake Waccamaw, risk to endangered species, increased traffic flow, odor and discouragement to prospective businesses and industries.
  13. What about the impact on the adjoining Juniper Creek Game Lands property and the nearby Nature Conservancy Green Swamp Preserve?

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