The saga of the so-called soil processing plant called BS Ranch in the Lakeland suburbs about which Sierra and other local environmental advocates have been complaining for years is getting some wider attention.
Today the issue was highlighted by Craig Pittman in Florida Phoenix, an on-line journalistic effort to highlight what’s wrong with Florida’s approach to a number of issues.
As previously noted here, the plant was approved by state and local officials based on a misleading public relations effort—most of the permits were actually approved after the fact—under the guise of providing a few jobs and supporting business interests.
County Commissioner George Lindsey recently termed his vote to approve a zoning permit for this environmental disaster the one vote he regrets.
The back story of this project was an attempt by companies that hauled wastes from septic tanks and sewer plants which have to go somewhere to places where they could be handled without dealing with environmental fines from the state and odor complaints from neighbors in rural areas.
It didn’t work out that way.
The odor complaints came from suburban residents and motorists on the nearby Polk Parkway, a local toll road constructed to speed intra-county commuting and all kinds of development, and even the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, whose initials DEP were often used to signify “Don’t Expect Protection” under the pro-development and accommodation regimes in Tallahassee, finally stepped in and sued to require BS Ranch to fix its problem.
The fixes are still in process even though other Florida counties with less permissive philosophies had already required tougher regulations.
Meanwhile, the destination for the sewage wastes that were to go to BS Ranch will supposedly end up somewhere better, according to some preliminary planning being discussed by county officials.
The plan instead is to haul these wastes to county sewer plants, where a treatment facility will be constructed to handle these wastes at a cost of several millions of dollars.
Some of this is in anticipation of complying with coming state regulations that restrict where sewage waste can be dumped and some will involve a discussion that has occurred over the past decade or so about dealing with residents’ complaints about the current disposal methods.
This change is still at least a couple of years out and how this will affect what sewer customers and septic tank owners pay for services has not been specifically addressed, but it may involve some fuller cost accounting.