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Senator Joins Landfill Debate

Updated:
TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- A state senator has joined the debate over a
proposed Cherokee County landfill with plans to push for tougher
landfill restrictions.

Sen. Kevin Easley, D-Broken Arrow, said Wednesday that he will
author legislation to prohibit landfills from locating in
environmentally sensitive areas.

"I think when you are located over groundwater and close to
public waterways, you have got to err on the side of caution," he
said. "I don't think we're so tight on space in Oklahoma we have
to locate landfills in risky locations."

A proposal to locate the Hidden Valley Landfill near Clear Creek
has drawn protest. The creek eventually runs into Fort Gibson Lake,
a water supply for many nearby communities.

"It's in the watershed of my Senate district," said Easley,
who represents parts of Tulsa and Wagoner counties. "I absolutely
will stand against anything that will harm the water quality of
Fort Gibson, and I think this potentially could."

The state Department of Environmental Quality has issued a draft
permit for the landfill near Peggs. Last week, Attorney General
Drew Edmondson asked the DEQ to deny a permanent permit because of
environmental concerns.

Easley, who authored the legislation that created the DEQ seven
years ago, said the new bill he plans to propose next session would
make the agency's job easier by prohibiting outright landfills that
are too close to public waterways.

Easley said he understands the need for landfills but believes
there are better sites than near waterways.

DEQ spokesman Michael Dean said the agency is legally bound to
consider each landfill application on its technical merits and
cannot be influenced by outside opinions.

"The law is very clear about what we have to do," Dean said.
"We're not doing this one any different from any other application
we do."

(Copyright 1999 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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