Osceola County to pay up to $200K for landfill water testing

Osceola County commissioners voted to spend up to $200,000 to hire a firm to inspect groundwater around the controversial J.E.D. Landfill. 

The specialty waste facility near St. Cloud has been accepting coal ash from Puerto Rico for weeks with permission from the county, but the outcry from residents has been deafening.

“We’re the ones who have to live with it and pay the price. We’re the ones who are going to get sick, so no, we’re not going to go away,” said Mikala Well, a concerned resident.

“First, I wanted to say that I hear you and we as a board hear you, I understand that you want to make sure that your families are safe and we want to make sure that your families feel safe and are safe,” said Chairwoman Cheryl Grieb, Osceola County Board of County Commissioners.

The company hired to conduct the testing will monitor changes to the groundwater and verify it meets all acceptable Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) safety standards.

“To assure the public that we are taking proper steps to ensure the landfill’s in compliance, all materials are handled properly and no issues that could damage our drinking water,” Grieb said.

Resident Mikala Wells supports the decision.

“I think it’s a small victory, it’s a step in the right direction, gives us an extra layer of protection,” Wells said.

She thinks the testing is the least the board can do.

“I mean, they’re gonna get more than $200,000 out of the whole coal ash deal that's coming in right now, so they might as well spend it on protecting us,” she said.

Wells says she isn’t only fighting for her own health, but for that of future generations.

“We have our kids to fight for, we don’t have the money to pack up and move,” Wells said.

The landfill is designated to accept coal ash by the Florida D.E.P. and E.P.A. and is monitored regularly, according to DEP. 

No word yet on how soon the county’s testing will begin.