Residents concerned about coal ash from Puerto Rico being dumped in Osceola County

There are calls for Osceola County to reverse a decision to allow an unlimited amount of coal ash to be dumped at a private landfill. 

Monday, the County confirmed that the landfill has already accepted 44,000 tons since the deal was approved on April 1, and there’s no cap on the amount.

“The end date for the importation of any coal ash is December 31, 2019, so no one knows that actual amount that is coming in. There is no ceiling that is on that,” said Lisa Nason, Director of Communications of Osceola County.

Residents hope the board of county commissioners pull the deal.

“I would like to see the board takes more time to evaluate the situation. I don’t care if they did a deal,” said Frank Rivera, a concerned citizen.

The safety of residents living near the JED Landfill has Mikayla Wells paranoid.

“It’s dangerous for the people that live in this area, especially people like me that have well water that live close to the landfill,” Wells said. 

But, JED Landfill representatives are assuring the public their site meets Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Environmental Protection Agency standards. 

Landfill officials and county officials insisting the ash in non-toxic and non-hazardous. Citizens aren’t buying what they’re hearing.

“I look at the facts and if the facts don’t match up to people’s narratives, I can’t apologize for that,” said Fred Hawkins, Osceola County Commissioner, District 5.

Residents are also bothered they had no say in the matter.

“I’m very upset. I don’t think they should ever have done it without asking the residents,” Wells said.

But Commissioner Fred Hawkins, a former JED Landfill employee who abstained from the vote due to conflicts of interest, says public input was taken two decades ago.

“Back in the late 1999, early 2000’s, there was a lot of meetings, there had to be an inter-local agreement that the county was involved in with the then owner, waste services, that’s when community meetings were held,” Hawkins said.

The county will make $2 on every ton of ash dumped at the landfill.