State waste management director to retire June 1


RALEIGH – Marking 30 years of working in environmental and public health protection, Division of Waste Management director Dexter Matthewsis retiring from the state agency he has led for 13 years, effective June 1. During his tenure, Matthews guided division efforts leading to landmark legislation establishing the Solid Waste Management Act of 2007 and led division action following the 2006 fire and explosion at the EQ hazardous waste facility in Apex.

“Losing Dexter this spring will be a great loss for the department and for the state,” said John Skvarla, secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “We will miss Dexter’s vast knowledge of waste management practices as well as his commitment to protecting the environment and providing excellent customer service.”

Matthews joined the department in 1987, serving in many capacities before being named director of the division in 2001. He began work with the department as a waste management specialist and rose through a succession of higher positions, including planning and education branch supervisor, solid waste reduction program supervisor and solid waste section chief.

“My plan has always been to retire with 30 years of service,” Matthews said. “I want to thank the department’s leadership for the support they have given me since the moment we met.”

Under his leadership, the division moved from unlined to lined sanitary landfills, implemented secondary containment requirements for petroleum underground storage tanks, responded to major emergency events such as the aftermath of hurricanes and the EQ explosion, removed the environmental and public health risks of thousands of contaminated sites across the state, developed and presented policy proposals, and implemented rules and legislation furthering the protection of public health and the environment from potential discharges of hazardous substances and petroleum.

Matthews announced his retirement plans Monday following a message to his staff.

“I have been lucky to have had supervisors and managers, from my first supervisor to my current supervisor, whom I have learned from, who have been supportive, and who have given me independence for professional growth,” Matthews wrote . “The luckiest I have been in my professional career is to have the best staff in the best division in North Carolina state government.”

The Division of Waste Management is organized into solid waste, hazardous waste, underground storage tank and Superfund sections, all addressing waste management and cleanup activities across the state. The division also includes the Brownfields redevelopment program and the mercury switch removal and inactive hazardous sites programs. Matthews proposed and implemented a program designed to fund the cleanup statewide of more than 600 old, abandoned dump sites, part of the legislation passed in 2007.

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