Under the Dome

NC lawmakers agree on how to deal with ‘garbage juice’

A bill paving the way for spraying leachate – the liquid that comes from landfills – is on its way to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

House Bill 576 would allow the Department of Environmental Quality to approve the use of spraying to dispose of the wastewater. Those who oppose the bill say the process would essentially be putting “garbage juice in a snowblower,” but bill sponsors say DEQ has approved the bill and helped work on it.

Democrats attempted to amend the bill to require landfills to detail what contaminants were in the leachate, and to make sure DEQ evaluates and approves the use of spray technology, instead of allowing the blanket use of the technology as long as landfills meet basic requirements. One of the amendments was tabled and didn’t receive a vote, and the other failed.

Sen. Trudy Wade, a Guilford County Republican who was the lead backer of the bill in the Senate, said DEQ under both the McCrory and Cooper administrations has approved of the use of the technology.

Sen. Paul Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County, was concerned that the technology would impact people living around a landfill – particularly low-income minority communities.

“Now, when you talk about spraying garbage juice into the air, I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the path, and I don’t know anybody in this room that would want to be in the path of garbage juice being spread about the community,” Lowe said. He added that there should be more testing to determine if spraying the leachate was the best method.

The House Bill 576 passed 29-14 in the Senate on Thursday. The House passed the bill in April, 75-45.