Cumberland County seeks to expand landfill, drawing concern from activists

Monique John Image
Friday, March 3, 2023
Cumberland County seeks to expand landfill; activists concerned
Cumberland County is engaging the public in its proposed plans to expand its landfill on Ann Street in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cumberland County is engaging the public in its proposed plans to expand its landfill on Ann Street in Fayetteville. The landfill is near a community made mostly of Black residents, and activists are speaking out about major problems an expansion could cause for people in the area.

On Thursday, the county is sharing options to build a transfer station that would allow it to move waste elsewhere. The county also wants to expand the landfill so it will have more room for waste for at least another two decades. Officials said figuring out a plan for this landfill is urgent because the site is expected to run out of room for garbage in seven years.

Solid Waste Director Amanda Bader said the county is committed to upholding environmental justice, and that it is taking lots of precautions to protect the public and the environment.

"We have been looking at buffers around the landfill. We have been looking at the environmental data around the landfill. We are constantly monitoring the air quality, the methane emissions from the landfill to groundwater monitoring," Bader said.

Bader said the impact of the expansion would be primarily contained to the landfill site. Still, activists said they're worried. Sherri White-Williamson, the co-founder of the Environmental Justice Community Action Network, said she has seen major consequences for nearby residents at a similar, larger landfill in Sampson County.

"They have absolutely seen their property values go down even to the extent of having difficulty in being able to sell those properties, particularly children of residents who may be deceased, or, you know, living in other alternative types of living situation," White-Williamson said. "So, I would say, absolutely property value would be a huge concern."

Cumberland County has conducted an environmental justice review for its proposed plans for the landfill. White-Williamson said she appreciates that the county took this step but is still concerned the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality might not follow insights and guidance from the report when deciding on permits for the project.

Bader said the county might try to buy land owned by the city of Fayetteville within the landfill area for the expansion effort. However, she noted the county would have to lead yet another environmental justice review and seek public feedback in that event.