Mo. town gets EPA grant to solve waste problem

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The residents of Penermon, Mo., are about to get a little greener, thanks to a $50,000 check the village received from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Stoddard County Development Foundation will use the money to "reduce the incidence and spread of diseases and conditions" in Penermon, said a news release from the EPA.

The money is part of an environmental justice grant program, said EPA spokeswoman Debbie Bishop.

The EPA selected the Stoddard County Development Foundation as the grant recipient because of "human health issues" Penermon suffered, said Bishop.

Now begins the task of working with the community to figure out exactly what the major health concerns are, said Bishop.

The village of Penermon, a town that as of July 2006 had a population of 76, currently uses three lagoon systems to manage its water waste. Whenever heavy rains pelt the soil, a significant amount of overflow from the waste water lagoon sinks into the soil, contaminating drinking water.

In addition to unsafe drinking water, Penermon also has no system in place for solid waste management, Bishop said.

Rather than leave trash curbside and wait for it to be picked up weekly, residents must either haul their garbage to a landfill, or burn it, meaning the air is also polluted.

The EPA plans to begin a recycling system to reduce the amount of waste being burned.

Outreach and public education will be central to improving the conditions, and the EPA intends to directly involve residents of Penermon as much as possible.

"We want to try to get everyone on board," said Bishop.

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