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DRPI landfill opposition continues after bill dies, comment period closes

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

Legislation that would have prevented a Minquadale-area landfill from expanding failed to pass the General Assembly last month, but some are still speaking out against the proposed expansion.

With the public comment period closed, DNREC now decides whether to grant the Delaware Recyclable Products, Inc. (DRPI) landfill in New Castle a permit modification to expand vertically by 60 feet. Company officials say the change would save the landfill from having to close in about a year.

The proposed expansion would have been barred by legislationpassed by House lawmakers in Dover last month. But the bill limiting the height of industrial landfills state-wide to 130 feet above sea level— the DRPI landfill’s current permitted maximum— failed to get a vote in the state senate before the end of this year’s legislative session. 

The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Frank Cooke, says he is helping organize a rally against the proposed expansion this weekend. “Showing DNREC and also Waste Management what the neighborhood— now I’m talking about neighborhood people— what we think about this landfill going up from 130 feet to 190 feet,” he said. 

Wilmington resident Willie Scott supported the legislation, citing concerns about the Delaware Recyclable Products Inc. landfill’s impact on air quality, water quality and economic development. 

“Citizens need to continue to put pressure on DNREC and Sec.[Shawn] Garvin to make sure that they understand the risk associated with allowing that expansion to go forward,” he said. 

Pending county legislation filed this spring by Councilman Jea Street would stop landfills capped at 140 feet or less from expanding above that limit. County Council Land Use Committee co-chair Janet Kilpatrick says the legislation is currently working its way through the state’s Preliminary Land Use Service (PLUS) and the county Land Use Department— and likely won’t be heard in committee until early fall. 

DNREC officials declined to say when a decision on the permit might be made. 

Waste Management’s John Hambrose told Delaware Public Media last month a 60-foot expansion could extend the life of the landfill between ten and twenty years. He argued this would benefit the region.

“There’s no other construction and demolition debris landfills in Delaware that we know of,” he said. “The next new landfill — we don’t know where that would be … It makes great sense environmentally and in business terms to maximize what we can do here."


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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