Dallas Council narrowly passes trash 'flow control'

McCommas Landfill

Credit: WFAA

A proposal has been adopted that will bring more trash to the McCommas Bluff landfill in southern Dallas.

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on September 28, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 28 at 5:51 PM

McCommas Bluff Landfill

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DALLAS — Economic development or environmental injustice? Those were two different perspectives being argued at Dallas City Hall Wednesday as Dallas City Council members considered a controversial proposal.

At issue: A plan to force commercial waste haulers to deliver trash to a City-owned landfill in southeast Dallas.

Waste companies currently save money by taking trash to landfills outside the city limits. By forcing them to dump at the McCommas Bluff landfill, the city could bring in an extra $15 million a year.

It also means an extra 800 tons of garbage per year streaming into an already depressed part of the city.

"It's insulting that our showcase economic development project for our community is same old, same old," argued Stephen Nash, Pastor at Mount Tabor Baptist Church in southeast Dallas, which is located near the landfill. "It's an unwanted dump that North Dallas wouldn't tolerate."

The dump is located in Council member Tennell Atkins' district, and he supports the additional waste, since the city has agreed to give up to a million dollars a year in extra landfill revenues to a special fund.

"This gives us the tools and a mechanism that says, hey — we can get economic development in part of our city," Atkins argued.

But Council member Vonciel Jones-Hill implored her colleagues not to take the bait.

"In the context of the City of Dallas, $1 million is like $10 at my house... it's nothing," Jones-Hill said.

The Council was evenly split before Mayor Mike Rawlings cast the swing vote.

"This is a moment of truth for the City of Dallas," he said. "We need to decide whether we are going to find something that improves southern Dallas, or are we just going to talk a good game."

The measure to implement what's being called "flow control" passed by an 8-7 vote.

While some see extra trash as buried treasure, others see it as the perpetuation of a shameful past.

The next phase for the city is to explore building a giant recycling plant. The city appears to have embraced what they call a radical process that recycles up to 90 percent of all raw garbage. A News 8 investigation, however, has raised questions about the feasibility of that plan.

The only discussion by Council about recycling on Wednesday was a pledge to study all alternatives to going green.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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