Osceola County leaders change stance on coal ash, but it may be too late due to contract

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After public outcry and pressure, the Osceola County Commission reversed a stance on a deal to allow the dumping of coal ash at  private landfill, but some say it’s too late.

It is a done deal, according to Osceola County.  The contract has been signed with Waste Connections to allow an unlimited amount of coal ash from Puerto Rico to be dumped at the J.E.D. Landfill. Tens of thousands of tons are already at the site, a few miles Southeast of Saint Cloud.

After public outrage over the deal, commissioners on Wednesday sent a letter requesting the company to cease accepting the ash immediately, citing public concerns with the presence of toxins in the ash and the potential of environmental damage and human illness.

“They should not have signed that agreement,” said Loret Thatcher, concerned citizen,  “I think that they didn’t do their homework, prior to signing this contract.”

Thatcher, who lives several miles from the landfill, feels the commissioners rushed into the deal. The County, now with its hands tied, is saying it cannot do much, legally. The decision to continue to accept ash is at the discretion of the landfill’s owner, Waste Connections.

“I think that’s to try to blow smoke, maybe do a little more cover up, I don’t think it’s going to resolve the problem, I think they need to re-write another contract and figure out ways to fix this issue,” said Kim Clabaugh, concerned citizen.

But the County said the contract is final. Still, residents are hoping there is a way to reverse the deal.

“I think there’s a loophole they can find to fix this problem,” said Clabaugh.

“I certainly hope that the company has the integrity to do that very thing because the people of Osceola County do not want it,” said Thatcher.

Until then, Clabaugh wants her fellow residents to stay vocal.

“I don’t want them to stop, I don’t want the public to stop. I want people to cry out to your commissioners. I want them to cry out to other people and get help,” said Clabaugh.

FOX 35 reached out to the landfill’s parent company for a response but has not heard back. The County says it has also not received a response to the letter. Until then, residents wait, as ash is brought-in by the truckload.