• 'Anyone in the audience?': Osceola County commissioners hold unscheduled vote on coal ash testing

    By: Field Sutton , Chip Skambis

    Updated:

    KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Osceola county inspectors are about to check on the JED landfill, where Waste Connections is currently dumping Puerto Rican coal ash, for the first time since 2014. 

    At a meeting Monday night, commissioners approved a plan to do more testing on the coal ash being dumped. 

    No one knew that commissioners were holding a vote on the issue because it wasn’t on the meeting agenda. 

    The vote came as a surprise at the close of the meeting, when a representative from the company Osceola County contracted to inspect the landfill presented a previously unannounced report.

    “We’ve reviewed their data,” said Troy Hayes, with Jones, Edmunds & Associates. "We would recommend maybe requesting, as one of the truckloads shows up at the site, and as JED is taking over ownership of the material, taking a sample for it. Running our own TCLP test on it."

    For 20 minutes, commissioners heard good things—that the landfill is following proper procedures, that its toxicity data looks trustworthy and that there’s no reason to worry. 

    Prior to the unscheduled vote, Commissioner Cheryl Grieb asked if anyone in the audience wished to speak.

    “Seeing and hearing none, any further discussion?” she asked. 

    Commissioners then voted to send inspectors in and to ask for permission to test the toxicity of ash on arriving trucks and water underneath the landfill. 

    Loret Thatcher has been fighting the coal ash battle ever since it came out that three commissioners approved dumping the stuff at the landfill based on an agenda item filed nearly an hour after a meeting started one day in May. 

    “Well, I found it quite amusing when the camera panned when she's saying, 'Anyone from the audience? Anyone from the audience? Do I have anyone from the audience?' And then the camera pans and there's four people sitting in the audience," said Thatcher. 

    She and others said had they known last night’s vote was coming, they’d have shown up and asked again for the more stringent testing they want done on the arriving coal ash. 

    Commissioners did not return requests for comment. 
     

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