One of the signatories on a sign-in sheet for "proposals to design, finance and permit the development and operation of a long-term solid waste management infrastructure system" for the city of Greensboro is local attorney Joseph A. Williams.
Williams was submitting a proposal on behalf of Waste Industries, a private company that would like to reopen the White Street Landfill.
Williams at one time was a voting member of the Simkins PAC, a group of black leaders that interviews candidates for office, votes by secret ballot on which candidates to endorse and then mails its recommendations to black voters. When I wrote about the PAC last August, Chairman Steve Bowden would not tell me the names of the voting members, so I am not certain whether Williams remains involved or not.
Candidates for office were asked to state their position on the possible reopening of the White Street Landfill last fall, and after the election, Bowden told me "the main issue for [the black community] is there's going to be an effort to open a dump back up in our section of town."
A description on the website for the law firm headed by the attorney Joseph A. Williams who has been involved with the Simkins PAC characterizes it as a champion of environmental justice: "They defeated some of the world's largest corporations deterring them from building environmentally degrading landfills in our communities."
The city has received nine different proposals, including options ranging from reopening the White Street Landfill using alternative technologies to opening a facility to handle the city's waste in a different part of town. Waste Industries' proposal not only calls for reopening White Street as a traditional landfill, but calls for significantly expanding it.
I quote at length from the proposal, because I think it's worth considering how explicit this is:
“To ensure that waste can be delivered to meet the proposed 1,500 tons per day, Waste Industries can divert some or all of its was from the Durham Transfer Station 600 to 800 tons per day, and direct haul solid waste it collects from other service locations in the in the Triad which amounts to approximately 500 tons per day. Not to mention future disposal contracts that can be secured for county-owned transfer stations in Stokes, Yadkin and Alleghany counties that total approximately 155 tons per day. To ensure the required volume is available, in the event of exportation by other companies, Waste Industries would request the city of Greensboro’s approval to expand its service area….
“The regional approach is the best hedge against the loss of solid waste volumes vital to the successful and revenue-generating capabilities of the White Street Landfill. In the proposal, Waste Industries offers a regional approach that consists of managing all solid waste generated in Guilford County and waste that is collected by Waste Industries within a 90-mile service radius of the White Street Landfill limited to North Carolina…. It’s important to note that with our redesign of the White Street Landfill servicing a 90-mile radius and delivering a total of 430,000 tons per year, the landfill life is estimated at 22 years just for the south side of the landfill property. Much more capacity remains in the future northern expansion area. The 90-mile service radius will dramatically increase operational efficiency, cost-effectiveness and the financial and economic development benefits to the community and the city as a whole. In addition to internalizing its own waste to ensure the success of the White Street Landfill, Waste Industries will actively and aggressively market the White Street Landfill to out-of-county private collection companies and local governments that control their collection programs and may own transfer stations. The key is staying competitive in the region to attract waste from outside of Guilford County.”
Does attorney Joseph A. Williams have a conflict of interest? I've put in my calls.