One of my all-time favorite movies is 1993's "Sandlot," a story about kids playing baseball in the summer. At a pivotal point, Scottie Smalls says that he has gotten the boys into "the biggest pickle any of them had ever seen."
That's the way I have felt this past week after attending last Tuesday's Dickinson County Supervisor's meeting. There is no secret what the hot topic of the morning was: putting contaminated vegetation and soil from the 160,000-gallon crude oil spill near Doon in Lyon County into the Dickinson County Landfill.
That's the pickle I'm talking about. From the supervisors to those of us in attendance, the feeling was one of fear and frustration about what to do. First off, the contaminated vegetation and soil both contain extremely volatile and dangerous chemicals. That's not something I want to see so close to our lakes.
The next issue is the landfill is privately-owned and managed and meets all of the safety requirements as designated by both state and federal guidelines. So, this is not against the law. I have read that the landfill has a liner that will prevent the materials from leeching into the soil and possibly into our water. There are also water monitoring stations that are checked quarterly to see how things are working.
That being said, I am not convinced that this is the right decision. Why, with all of these lakes so close to this landfill, would you ever allow something like this to be deposited at the doorstep of the Iowa Great Lakes?
See what I mean? We are in one giant pickle right now. There was so much discussion about this at the supervisor's meeting, and yet there was no real answer at hand. The supervisors did draft a letter to Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday, imploring her to take action to halt the disposal of the contaminated materials to the Dickinson County Landfill so next steps could be considered. However, with each day that goes by, more contaminated vegetation and eventually contaminated soil are transported to the landfill.
The scary part is a year ago, hundreds of creosote railroad ties were hauled to the Dickinson County Landfill from Minnesota. Again, my question is what makes this the right place to dump hundreds of railroad ties right at the doorstep of the Iowa Great Lakes?
Why would these two disposal events ever be allowed to happen here? Aren’t there other more suitable hazardous waste landfills that would be better than right here? Can anything be done? Don’t know, but we won’t know until we give it our best shot. I think we need to let both state and federal regulators know our feelings, make them give us answers for their decision and then get them to change that decision.
We need to tell them that this is not the place to just dump stuff and forget it. We can be told that there will be no leaks or leeching, but are we really sure? Is this a guarantee? Will this become an issue for future generations to solve? We need to be the loud and squeaky wheel that gets noticed and taken care of. Simply put, these types of things should not be put here.
Individuals, businesses and organizations need to voice their concern. We need to figure out a way to get out of "the biggest pickle" we might have ever seen right here in Dickinson County!