CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Property that the city of Nitro wants to annex includes a Bayer CropScience landfill that may contain hazardous waste, according to an opponent of the move."[Bayer officials] haven't told us what's in there," said Dennis Davis, chairman of Citizens for Positive Change, a group that has been pushing to annex parts of Institute and West Dunbar into the city of Dunbar."There are rumors that there have been highly toxic chemicals that have been placed in that landfill for the past 40 or 50 years," Davis said.Last week, Kanawha County planning officials held a public hearing on Nitro's plan to annex a strip of land along W.Va. 25 past the Bayer plant, down to the Kanawha River, and back to Goff Mountain Road. Everything inside the boundaries of the annexation -- including the plant -- would be safe from future annexation by Nitro or any other municipality.
The plan was drawn up by Bayer attorneys and approved by the Nitro City Council. Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt has said the deal will spur economic development in the area by sparing Bayer and other industrial property from paying business and occupation taxes. In exchange, Casebolt has said Bayer has agreed to pay Nitro to treat the plant's wastewater.But the annexation boundaries also include a Bayer chemical landfill, Davis said. He said some nearby citizens are worried about what's in the landfill, whether Nitro is equipped to deal with it, and what's going to happen to the waste."We have many citizens who are almost on top of that landfill," Davis said.Davis said Citizens for Positive Change is against the annexation proposal because of concerns over the landfill, but also because the plan takes in property around the plant. Under the group's plan to annex Institute into Dunbar, Citizens for Positive Change had counted on tax revenue from the Bayer plant and other nearby businesses to help pay for improvements and police and fire protection in the area.Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said he was aware of the landfill, and also is concerned that Nitro is able to handle possibly hazardous waste."I would hope they've exercised due diligence, and I hope they've had other people look at this, other than proponents of it," Carper said. He said he hopes Nitro officials are aware of the "long-term consequences" of the plan.The Kanawha County Commission is expected to vote on the annexation plan at a regular meeting Thursday. But Carper said the state Supreme Court has made it clear that commissioners have little choice but to approve the request."We're not even allowed to look at whether it was procedurally done correctly," he said.Casebolt and officials for Bayer could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. Reach Rusty Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1215.