Okeechobee Utility Authority OUA says ‘no’ to request to process leachate from Osceola County

OKEECHOBEE – The announcement of plans for a private landfill in Osceola County to accept 200,000 tons or more of coal ash from Puerto Rico set off a chain of events that briefly had Okeechobee County residents concerned this week.

JED Solid Waste Facility will accept 200,000 tons or more of coal ash from Puerto Rico, according to an article in the Osceola News-Gazette. Due to concerns about toxins in the coal ash, on June 13, the City of St. Cloud city council voted to cancel the city’s contract to treat leachate from the JED landfill at the city’s wastewater treatment facility. Issues voiced at the city council meeting included concerns the toxic heavy metals in coal ash could damage the city’s wastewater treatment plant. According to the Osceola News-Gazette, coverage, JED landfill has accepted coal ash since it opened in 2004, but never before this much at one time.

Okeechobee Utility Authority Executive Director John Hayford said OUA was approached by a landfill operator to take some of their leachate for treatment.

News of that request put Okeechobee County in the limelight as a possible dumping ground for the toxic landfill leachate.

OUA is not interested, according to Mr. Hayford.

“The current OUA position is ‘no’ on acceptance and treatment of leachate,” he stated. 

“The OUA did not reach out to them, they approached the OUA to see if there was a possibility to accept it,” Mr. Hayford explained. He said the OUA board of directors has no interest in considering such a contract.

Some of OUAs treated wastewater is used to irrigate orange groves. Some is recycled using spray fields. During the wet season, if the water recycling applications cannot handle the volume of treated wastewater, OUA also has a deep injection well.

Solid waste from the OUA facility is treated to the level of Class AA biosolids and sold as fertilizer.

News coverage about the issue had social media buzzing, but Okeechobee County Commissioner Brad Goodbread assured area residents that Okeechobee County’s wastewater treatment facility would not accept the JED landfill leachate.

“It is not coming,” Mr. Goodbread posted on Facebook.

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