WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Commissioners will have to start talking trash all over again. Today, they threw out Covanta Energy’s proposal to reopen the old WASTEC facility.
Commission Chair Ted Davis raised a few questions before the vote, and he did not hear the answers he wanted. Other commissioners, though, were ready to move full steam ahead.
“I’m just floored,” former County Commissioner and New Hanover County resident Buck O’Shields said. “Absolutely floored.”
O’Shields is one of many who spoke in favor of Covanta Energy’s proposal to refurbish the old incinerator.
“It was going to be the culmination of about 20 years of efforts to put back online an environmentally friendly system to get rid of the waste that had to be landfilled,” O’Shields said.
Instead, the search for a solid waste solution continues.
Davis raised a lot of questions about covanta’s proposal. For starters, he questioned the hefty annual price tag that could exceed $14 million and whether the county would receive enough money in tipping fees to cover the cost.
“I’d be more prone to gamble with my own money than someone else’s,” Davis said. “Today we’re not talking about my money. We’re talking about everybody that lives in this county, so I’m gonna go the extra mile to be extra careful, but that’s my mindset.”
Davis was also concerned because permitting is a multi-year process, and it’s not guaranteed. Fellow commissioner Jonathan Barfield says nothing in life is guaranteed.
“Now is the time for us to step forward and show some true leadership,” Barfield said. “Retrofit that facility, get it back up and running, burn our trash. We had a lot of support from the business community, Chamber of Commerce, others spoke in favor of it, and I was so surprised we voted not to approve the contract. Quite disappointed actually.”
Commissioners Brian Berger and Rick Catlin joined Davis in voting against the deal.
What’s next? Commissioner Davis says Covanta could always come back to the table with answers to his questions.