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Board of Supervisors Defers Vote on Waste-to-Energy Plant

The controversial issue is open for discussion for at least two more weeks.

The very public discussion about the Fairfax County’s proposed purchase of the waste-to-energy plant in Lorton will continue for a little longer. In their meeting yesterday, the Board of Supervisors deferred vote on the issue until their March 8th meeting. The window for the County to make a decision closes in the first week of April. The plant is currently owned and operated by New Jersey-based Covanta Energy.

With a suggested price tag of  $417.5 million the proposal has elicited strong opinions on both sides. County Executive Anthony Griffin has recommended the purchase. Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland also supports it. Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity has opposed it. According to Griffin, the plant would be paid for by bonds secured from tipping fees.

One of the 27 speakers at yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting called the decision “idiotic.” A strong majority of the 27 voiced their opposition on mostly financial grounds, citing the uncertainty of projections that go 25 years into the future, as the county’s does.

While the county’s purchase affects all residents of Fairfax County, because of its location its affect on Lorton is particularly acute. The town is in the process of rehabilitating its image as the “armpit of the county.” And since the closing of the DC Reformatory and Prison, which led to the development of Laurel Hill area and the construction of two—and soon to be three—new schools, shedding that label has become increasingly possible.

Few are aware of Lorton’s recent history better than Laurie Frost Wilson, who has lived within a mile of the plant since it was built in 1990. She opposed the building of the plant back in the 1980s but now says, “Covanta has been a good neighbor.”

Wilson has litany of reasons she’s in opposition to the county’s plan to take over the plant, but the most fundamental is a lack of trust.

“I don’t believe what the Fairfax County DPWES (Department of Public Works and Environmental Services) says because they’ve lied to me again and again,” she said.

The county’s presentation to the public can be viewed here.

Covanta’s statement on the issue can be viewed (see bootom of page).

A letter from a Lorton resident opposing of the county’s proposal can be viewed .

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