Friday, June 16, 2017

Leachate...what is that?

Do you know what leachate is? No, me neither. I had to look that one up. Leachate is water that has percolated through a solid and leached out some of the constituents.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leachate  Why am I concerned about leachate? In reading through a few current bills before the North Carolina House of Representatives, I ran across House Bill 576, Allow Aerosolization of Leachate. This bill outlines what to do with leachate, or waste drainage water, from landfills. So, let that sink in for a minute, think of everything you throw away in your trash on a daily or weekly basis. Think about your neighbors with babies, or elderly populations. Think about the pets, think about food waste, just think about what goes into the landfill each day. And when it rains and filters through all that waste, the leachate is the result. 

That is the first part of the process. Now aerosolization, involves spraying this untreated leachate into the air, allowing any solid particles to settle and the water to evaporate. Now for a moment, think back to recent forest fires. I know here at my house, even though the fires were many miles away, the wind carried the smoke, making it difficult to breath. And then the ash in the smoke settled on everything. I thought about this when I was thinking about House Bill 576. If this putrid liquid run off from all the rotting, disintegrating trash is sprayed into the air, what keeps it at the landfill, preventing the wind from carrying it to neighboring property? Do I really want this blowing over to my house, settling on the land where I grow vegetables to feed my family, lakes in which we fish and swim? Who guarantees the quality of well water? These are important questions.

I read some more about leachate, wondering how long bacteria and viruses can survive, will that present a health risk when aerosolizing leachate. Really, I couldn’t find much. I did read one research paper from the Environmental Protection Agency (remember this is an agency that has been threatened with elimination) that states "This study showed that live infectious viral agents can persist for days, weeks, even months in the landfill leachate under certain environmental conditions."https://cfpub.epa.gov/si/si_public_record_report.cfm?dirEntryId=335601 

This bill has me concerned. Oversight of this activity in North Carolina falls under the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), here in North Carolina. The DEQ is an agency under attack by the North Carolina Budget proposals, some of our representatives in Raleigh would like to slash the DEQ budget. Is there anyone in Raleigh looking out for the best interests of the people? I am starting to think we need an overhaul of the General Assembly. Find and elect people who care about those they serve. People who have not lost touch with living in a rural community. Maybe it's time for a change. 

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