North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, recently vetoed legislation that would allow landfills to dispose the liquid that leaks from trash by spraying it into the air in a currently untested process called leachate aerosolization. The process was accepted in other states, but Cooper was hesitant to endorse a measure that may pose a safety hazard to people and the environment. Critics of the bill call the spray, “garbage juice,” and question whether mold, viruses and asbestos could travel once released into the air.
The debate over House Bill 576 centers on whether the spraying process is safe. Proponents of the bill argue that while the water will dissipate into the air, contaminants will fall back into the landfill because they are too heavy to travel. Although the bill’s sponsor claimed that the technology was safe, he presented no proof or data to support his assertion. In his veto message, Cooper stated that scientists, not the legislature, should determine the safety of such technology.
Opponents describe the process as putting “garbage juice in a snow blower” and believe that the toxic liquid could spread to surrounding neighborhoods, endangering the safety of people in the area. A staff attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center voices a concern shared by environmentalists about how leachate aerosolization affects public health. She notes that microscopic particles can travel at least three miles, spreading potentially hazardous materials to those near the landfill.
Residents in close proximity to the landfill especially would have cause for concern regarding exposure to toxic contaminants, like asbestos. Repeated asbestos exposure can lead to serious diseases, such as mesothelioma. Although lawmakers could override the governor’s veto by a three-fifths vote in August, for now, the residents of North Carolina can rest easy knowing that House Bill 576 will not be implemented.
Source: WasteDIVE, “UPDATE: North Carolina governor vetoes leachate spraying bill,” Cole Rosengren, July 5, 2017