More transparency needed before approving coal ash imports, protesters say

Coal ash imports continue from Puerto under agreement with Osceola County

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - People protesting coal ash imports held their signs high Friday in front of the entrance of JED Landfill in Osceola County.

More than a dozen people who live within the county continue to push for a halt to coal ash importation from Puerto Rico to the privately owned landfill.

Osceola County commissioners agreed to the contract April 1 between Waste Connections, the company that operates JED landfill, and Puerto Rico power company AES.

Since the contract was approved, at least 44,000 tons have been delivered to the waste site.

After a commission meeting Monday and hearing dozens of concerns from the public, Chairwoman Cheryl Grieb sent a letter to Waste Connections asking that they stop accepting shipments of the material.

However, that doesn't put an end to the deal. A county representative said Waste Connections gets the final say as to whether they want to out of the contract.

"No contract is ever final. The will of the people is strong," protester Barbara Cady said.

News 6's continuous requests for a comment from Waste Connections have gone unanswered.

Kat Darrah stood among the protesters Friday. The contract may have been approved, but she said that is not going to stop her from trying to put an end to the deal.

"We are going to keep protesting. We're going to keep fighting it and hopefully we can put a stop to it," Darrah said.

The contract runs through Dec. 31. One of the concerns residents had is the lack of transparency from county commissioners about the contract. Barbara Cady said the lack of communication with residents about what was coming into their county is upsetting. 

"They basically pulled the wool over our eyes and just all of a sudden, we're going to sign, seal, deliver the contract. It all happened so fast," Cady said.

Mike Lella said he would have liked to have known about the possibility of coal ash making it's way into his county.

"Be up front. Tell us. Tell us what you're going to do and let us decide. That's it," Lella said.

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