LETTER – You cannot support environmental justice and this landfill
Published 10:28 am Friday, April 2, 2021
To the Editor:
Jerry Cifor, the president of Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, is a salesman trying to sell the idea that his 1,200-acre mega landfill in Cumberland County is a good thing. I expect much of the 800 acres of timberland buffer will eventually be turned into landfill cells. He has spent money on mailing advertisements and building community parks/playgrounds to buy support for the landfill. Now he is misrepresenting the environmental justice issues.
This proposed landfill encompasses a floodplain, wetlands, waterways that lead to the James River and Chesapeake Bay and graves that are believed to be of former slaves. It does not affect just those who live within a 6.2 mile-radius; it affects all of Cumberland County, surrounding counties and the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. By importing 3,500 to 5,000 tons of trash daily from states within a 500-mile radius, Virginia will either maintain its number two spot as a trash importer or move to the number one spot. The new state motto will be “Virginia is for Landfills.”
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According to the U.S. census (April 1, 2010), Cumberland County’s population consisted of 30.5% Black or African-American alone, greater than the Virginia rate of 19.9%. The median household income (in 2019 dollars), 2015-2019, was $47,469, and the per capita income in past 12 months (in 2019 dollars), 2015-2019, was $25,138 — both below the Virginia rate. There are other factors that are taken into consideration when determining the environmental justice impact on a community. These factors cannot be glossed over with fancy advertisements, playgrounds and promises of revenue for the county. Environmental justice is a new concept that came to the forefront after this landfill was approved by the previous Cumberland County Board of Supervisors, so I don’t think Cifor had environmental justice on his mind when he approached the county.
Cifor is disingenuous when he says that the loudest voices are from more affluent white people from the neighboring wealthier county, and the current Board of Supervisors is a disappointment to many.
The actions of the Green Ridge team and Cifor indicate that they do not believe in environmental justice and protecting the cultural integrity of the area. If they modified the design of their facility to not disrupt the Rosenwald School building, it was only because the school has been designated as a state and a national Historic Landmark. Their original plan was to reroute the road so you could not get to the school from Route 60 (Anderson Highway). I can’t speak for other supporters of the school, but I view Cifor and Green Ridge’s offer of money as nothing but a bribe that would then, if accepted, be considered as their acceptance of the landfill. Turning down their offer was the right thing to do.
You either support environmental justice, or you support this 1,200 acre mega landfill that will be filled with out-of-state trash and provide no jobs or direct benefits for local residents.