South Carolina senators are considering legislation that would put a ban on mega landfills in the state for two years while lawmakers research the proposals. The issue was heard Tuesday before Laurens Senator Danny Verdin’s subcommittee. Opponents say large landfills, like one planned for Marlboro County, would take most of their trash from other states. James Caulder is chief of the Pee Dee Indians of South Carolina. He was among four Indian tribal leaders who showed up for Tuesday’s hearing dressed in full Native American clothing. Caulder says his tribe is concerned because the proposed landfill is too close for comfort. “For one thing , it’s going to be within five to ten miles of our tribal land,” said Caulder. “But another reason I’m here is a little over 509 years ago, before anyone came to this country, we had clean water. We had beautiful forests and we had free run. Look where we’ve come to today. Our beautiful forest is being cut down. Our rivers are being contaminated. The fish has gotten mercury in them.”
Chief Louie Chavis of the Beaver Creek Indian Tribe in Orangeburg says the issue is just about money, and their local land is at stake. “Are we selling out solely for money?” he questioned.
“Wherever this trash is coming from, surely, they didn’t want it in their state. I reckon it would be New York or New Jersey. Come on now, why are we going to take it and become a dumping ground for whatever. No, no, no no, no. It’s time to put a stop this.”
Chavis says Native Americans took better care of the land and would not approve of megadumps. According to Chavis, “When our people were here, we didn’t have any problem drinking from any stream or creek. The water was good.
“Look in the upstate, for example, where we dumped all the PCB chemicals. It’s time somebody wakes up and puts an end to this or are we selling out everything for a green dollar?”