The Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City (Jason Hancock/Missouri Independent).
Discussion of proposed legislation combating a possible landfill near Kansas City drew over 60 people to the Missouri Capitol on Tuesday to support bills establishing stricter restrictions regarding solid waste disposal permits.
Bold, black letters spelling out “kill the fill” contrasted against the bright, white shirts of several community members filling seats in the Senate hearing room waiting for their chance to voice their support of the bills.
Current law allows municipalities within a half-mile to object to a landfill permit being approved by the Department of Natural Resources. The proposed legislation discussed during Tuesday’s hearing would extend that boundary to a full-mile.
The bills grew out of grassroots efforts from residents of Raymore to block a proposed landfill in Jackson County near Kansas City.
While previous hearings have discussed the legality of solid waste disposal permits, particularly regarding the landfill proposed by KC Recycle & Waste Solutions, Tuesday’s hearing reflected more personal stories.
Dozens of witnesses, ranging from mayors and environmental lawyers to elementary school students and teachers, testified on Tuesday. More than 20 people were forced to leave the room due to the huge crowd size, leaving around a third of people testifying lining the halls of the Capitol waiting for their turn.
Mackenzie Thomas, a military spouse, shared intimate details of her family’s circumstances, trying to convince the Senate committee to approve the bills.
“My husband is a 100% disabled veteran,” Thomas said. “He is 100% disabled for multiple reasons, but he has been exposed to toxic waste in Afghanistan and Iraq. Daily, I see the impacts the toxic waste has had on him mentally and physically.”
When KC Recycle & Waste Solutions, owned by the Monheiser family, first proposed the landfill that would run along Missouri 150 Highway, Thomas said her husband’s words stuck with her.
“When this was proposed, he said to me, and I can speak on this for other veterans in the community, that they feel like they’re waging war on our family, and they are,” Thomas said.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, eight-year-old Macy Thomas shared her testimony supporting the bills.
“When my dad retired, he chose to move from Camp Pendleton to Raymore so we could grow up next to my grandma,” she said. “My favorite things to do with her’s eat biscuits and have sleepovers with her. It’s so fun because I can run down to her house whenever I want.”
Her grandmother had a kidney transplant and is now immunocompromised.
“Doctors have told her that if this landfill moves forward, then we, she, cannot live there anymore,” Mackenzie Thomas said. “It impacts all of us; our health and our environment.”
Jennifer Monheiser of KC Recycling & Waste Solutions focused her comments in opposition to the bill on the permit process, telling the Senate committee that “it takes a lot of time to permit a landfill.”
“It takes, you know, up to 10 years, maybe even 20 years sometimes, to permit a landfill,” Monheiser said. “When those options are closing quickly, and it takes that long, we need to start now with another option. Not only for my family business but for the region.”
This story originally appeared in the Columbia Missourian. It can be republished in print or online.
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