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Five years on, east Pasco landfill proposal still in dispute

DADE CITY - Repeated rejections and delays have not dissuaded the Iafrate family from pursuing their goal of opening another east Pasco County landfill. The latest paperwork, filed last month with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, keeps with the proposal for a 1,000-acre footprint, 30 acres of which would initially be used for waste. The landfill, if approved, would be 4 miles southeast of Dade City on land north of Messick Road and south of Enterprise Road. The site is near a construction debris landfill that is owned and operated by the Iafrates. John Arnold, an engineer for the family's company, Angelo's Aggregate Materials, declined to comment today.
The proposal for the new landfill, first made in 2006, has drawn widespread opposition from Tampa Bay area cities, businesses and residents who fear the site's proximity to the Withlacoochee River and Green Swamp would contaminate the water supply. They also worry that a sinkhole could quickly turn the landfill into an environmental disaster. If one occurs under the landfill, it could dump contaminants into the Floridan Aquifer, which would pollute groundwater across the region, opponents say. Carl Roth, who has spearheaded opposition to the landfill, said not much has changed in the Iafrates' latest proposal. "There's nothing in the submittal that has changed as far as how they're going to construct the landfill," Roth said. "They made minor changes and reduced the thickness of the clay liner from 5 feet to 2 feet, but there aren't too many changes in the engineering. "And they've really done nothing to address the sinkhole issues in the area." Since 2006, the landfill proposal has spawned a civil lawsuit against Pasco County, appeals to administrative courts and the submission and resubmission of landfill plans. In 2009, the DEP declined to issue a permit for the site, citing concerns over sinkholes. At the time, Arnold said the site contains "what geologists call relic, paleosinks, but they are quite stable." Some geologists opined that those sinkholes could become active. The Iafrates have appealed the DEP denial to the Division of Administrative Hearings, where it remains pending. Even if they win the DEP appeal, the Iafrates would likely have a protracted battle at the county level for local approval. The family sued the county last year over a change in the long-range development plan that would require the property to be reclassified for the landfill to open. In the lawsuit, the Iafrates contend the county changed the plan specifically to stop their proposed landfill. The lawsuit is pending. Over the years, the Iafrates have reduced the size of the proposed landfill area from 90 acres to 30 acres. In the latest plan, the additional 60 acres are listed as "potential future cells." Among other things, the proposal calls for several layers of clay liners, a network of pipes to collect contaminated rainwater that seeps through the buried garbage and monitoring wells around the landfill to check for pollution leaking into the environment. The plan shows that between 1,800 and 3,000 tons of garbage would be hauled to the site each day. The landfill would not take hazardous waste or asbestos but would allow household garbage, dead animals, furniture and industrial waste, according to documents. The landfill would cost about $7.5 million to construct.

tleskanic@tampatrib.com (813) 731-8098
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