Waste Management, Inc., and BFI, the largest and second-largest waste hauling companies in America, were convicted of price fixing and bid rigging and fined $1 million each by a federal court in Toledo, Ohio in late October. The action was brought against the two well-organized crime participants by Ohio Attorney General Tony Celebreeze. Unfortunately, Waste Management alone grosses more than $2 billion each year and nets more than $400 million, so a $1 million fine is easy to absorb as a "normal cost" of doing business in a crooked way.
The next day, as coincidence would have it, Greenpeace activists Ben Gordon and friends arrived in Spencerville, OH, to stage a demonstration against Waste Management's proposed Timberline solid waste landfill, which is being vigorously opposed by the local citizens group, Dumpbusters, led by Sally Teets. Greenpeace invaded the proposed site with a bulldozer and a dump truck and put up a giant banner flaunting their opposition to Waste Management's plan. For two hours, Greenpeace dug in the ground with shovels as eight TV stations rolled tape. The resulting publicity helped Dumpbusters' next move--a huge rally the following day featuring an eloquent spokesperson for environmental values, Hugh Kaufman; Mr. Kaufman is a well-known whistleblower who has said, only half jokingly, that his employer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a "wholly owned subsidiary" of Waste Management, Inc. Fifteen hundred people attended the rally to hear Mr. Kaufman speak and to oppose Waste Management's proposed dump.
The following day Dumpbusters sponsored a "crap out;" they marked up the site into small squares and sold tickets to people. Then they brought a cow onto the site and let it graze until it relieved itself onto one of the marked squares. The person holding the ticket for the lucky square won $500.00. Besides raising money, the event signified that people in Spencerville are "tired of being crapped on" by Waste Management, says Ms. Teets.
During this one week, Dumpbusters raised $37,000 to support its fight against Waste Management's proposed dump. They have opened up a legal attack on Waste Management, passing a local zoning law to prohibit the proposed dump. Waste Management, which maintains a stable of Doberman lawyers, has sued in court, arguing that the decision to pass a zoning law was made in secret, violating Ohio's sunshine law. It is ironic that criminals convicted of conspiring to fix prices can use the courts to attack citizens for conspiring to protect themselves by zoning hazards out of their neighborhood.
These creative and dramatic attacks on Waste Management by Dumpbusters and Greenpeace have delayed plans for opening the Timberline dump. Waste Management had originally planned to begin accepting solid waste at the huge site early last May, but it is now mid-November and they are not even close.
Our hat is off to Dumpbusters of Spencerville and once again to Greenpeace, for showing us all the way. When government cannot or will not protect citizens from the menace of hazardous materials, citizens must take matters into their own hands, to protect themselves.
To learn more, contact Dumpbusters c/o Sally Teets, 744 Eastgate Drive, Spencerville, OH 45887; phone
(419) 647-6620, or Ben Gordon, Greenpeace, 921 West Van Buren, Suite 115, Chicago, IL 60607; phone (312)
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: wmi; landfilling; dumpbusters; greenpeace;