Teamsters, Community Protest Republic Services Over Toxic Landfills
(PHOENIX) — Teamsters with the Solid Waste and Recycling Division, and Beth Roach, a community activist from Wayne County, Ga., attended Republic Services Inc.’s [NYSE: RSG] annual shareholders’ meeting in Phoenix on Friday, decrying the company’s serial mismanagement of its landfills and the lack of care and respect for affected communities.
“Republic Services management and the company’s biggest shareholder, Bill Gates, are making money today by building up huge environmental liabilities and sowing discord. This is not sustainable behavior,” said Chuck Stiles, Assistant Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste and Recycling Division.
The company’s evident indifference seems to extend to its board of directors who, other than the CEO, failed to attend the annual shareholders’ meeting in person or by phone. Mismanagement at Republic’s landfills is stoking rising costs and the company is facing an intensified push for greater accountability, remediation and relocation of those communities directly impacted.
“The board’s lack of involvement is deeply troubling and unacceptable,” said Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer. “Shareholders demand our directors be present and accountable. How can we be confident that Republic’s board of directors is representing the shareholders’ interests and effectively overseeing management when they do not even show up for the annual meeting?”
The Teamsters Union represents thousands of sanitation workers at the company in many locations throughout the country.
An underground fire has been raging for five years at Republic’s West Lake complex in Bridgeton, Mo. The complex contains thousands of tons of illegally-dumped radioactive nuclear wastes in an unlined landfill. The subsurface fire is moving closer to the nuclear waste and is releasing toxic chemicals impacting residents and workers.
Beth Roach is from a community affected by a toxic spill arising from Republic’s landfilling of out of state coal ash, behind the backs of the local residents.
“They’ve already spilled beryllium and who knows whatever else into our water,” Roach said. “And now Republic wants to get a permit to massively expand toxic coal ash dumping in our community. They already have shown they can’t handle this waste in an appropriate manner.”
Mismanagement at Republic’s landfills is stoking rising costs overall and the company is facing an increased push for greater accountability, remediation and relocation of those communities directly impacted.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has ordered Republic to submit amended closure plans for the Bridgeton landfill by April 16, and corrective action plans by May 16, along with associated cost estimates for both.
As recently as May 3, St. Louis residents Dawn Chapman and Karen Nickel, founders of JustMoms STL, and Lois Gibbs, founder of the Center for Health Environment and Justice, met with United Nations Human Rights Council representatives.
The delegation delivered a formal human rights complaint to the attention of the United Nations Rapporteur for Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox, with whom they have been corresponding regarding the effects of Republic’s ongoing West Lake Bridgeton landfill environmental crisis. The complaint outlines the need for corporate accountability and government action.
“We see that these problems in the workplace carry over into surrounding communities. We want an apology from Bill Gates and we want Republic to halt its Wayne County coal ash plans,” Roach said.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.