COMMUNITY OPINION: Ulta Beauty is extremely toxic to the proposed expansion of hazardous landfills

Maureen Nelson writes that the county shouldn’t destroy its landscapes, tear up roads, and potentially be a home for hazardous waste in exchange for a larger landfill.

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There are many reasons because the massively expanded John Smith Road Landfill proposal poses a huge risk to San Benito. An important aspect that has not been discussed is how it can contaminate the county and water supply with hazardous waste from other counties.

We shouldn’t destroy our landscapes, tear our roads apart, delay traffic on the roads when parents just want to go home to their families, to provide a place for Silicon Valley waste and elsewhere. Hazardous waste makes it even more dangerous.

County officials mistakenly have dollar signs in their eyes for making San Benito an importer of waste from other California counties (they do not adequately consider the effect of road destruction costs from heavy landfill trucks). They will also say that they are only advocating the massive import of household waste, not hazardous waste, but they are wrong.

In the fall of 2021, a legal settlement involving most of California’s counties showed that Ulta Beauty Salons, a statewide chain, had illegally dumped hazardous waste in the trash. Basically, San Benito County wasn’t one of the counties that received compensation for this discharge, even though Santa Clara County, where the Ulta Beauty waste originated, got involved and compensated. Many other counties that may send waste to San Benito have also taken steps to protect themselves, but not San Benito.

What does this tell us? On the one hand, we should be very concerned about the assurances we will receive that toxic and hazardous waste will not be imported along with the vast expansion of imported waste and garbage trucks. That waste was not supposed to be imported already, but was thrown in the trash of the counties who send their waste here anyway.

We have good reason to think that hazardous waste is supposedly in the landfill now, hopefully not leaking into our groundwater below the instrument’s detection levels. Does it make more sense than doubling daily waste disposal with a promise of safety that seems to have already been broken?

On a broader level, there is a lesson in common sense about this, a simple lesson: don’t do silly things. Is making San Benito a trash magnet for California smart or silly? How about wrecking our roads with more and more garbage trucks weighing 80,000 pounds or leaving local drivers stuck in traffic behind more and more trucks?

How about destroying nearly 200 acres of open rural countryside which makes San Benito special, for a landfill. If all of this sounds silly to you, it’s no surprise that other silly, dangerous, and unintended consequences can also occur, such as the illegal import of hazardous waste.

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