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Consultant talks trash with Scott supervisors

CLIFFORD JEFFERY • Mar 10, 2007 at 9:36 AM

GATE CITY - One way or another, getting rid of garbage is going to cost Scott County residents.

A consultant presented a report recently to the Scott County Board of Supervisors detailing the cost of closing the county landfill and opening a transfer station.

Jack Hinshelwood of Olver Inc. in Blacksburg told supervisors that the county currently has a collection site and disposal.

"You are already in the process of (updating) waste disposal by going from the unmanned green box sites to the manned sites," he told the board.

With the new manned sites, the county has better ability to control the waste that is disposed of.

The landfill is older and does not have a liner - a requirement in new landfills.

The county's gas monitoring of the landfill is going well. An approved groundwater-monitoring program is going well too, he said. It will last from three to 10 years. Ultimately, the monitoring of the landfill will last 30 years from closure.

"The landfill is slated for closure November 2008. That came about as a consent order from the Department of Environmental Quality in November 2003," said Hinshelwood.

When the landfill is closed, a 3-foot soil cap will be moved over the whole landfill.

"It is a soil cover that allows for vegetative growth," he said.

The soil is available on site, but it is a lot of dirt to move.

That cap will allow grass to grow. Ditches around the fill will keep storm water from washing the soil away, Hinshelwood said.

The closure cost will be about $800,000 for the 8-acre site.

Hinshelwood recommended the county build a transfer station at the landfill.

The geology in the county is one of limestone, and the DEQ will not authorize a landfill expansion in that sort of geology, he said.

Even if a new landfill could be built, it would have to be done under current requirements. That makes it cost prohibitive for counties to operate landfills anymore, he said.

The requirements set by regulatory agencies make it difficult to justify for rural counties, he said.

While Scott County generates about 50 tons of waste, at least 200 tons is required to make most landfills a viable project, said Hinshelwood.

"The preliminary design for a transfer station that we prepared for you in 2003 looked at some different options," he said. "We made some site visits to area transfer stations. We want to incorporate some facets that your public works group liked."

Hinshelwood recommended that the transfer station be located at the landfill site where there is an existing maintenance facility and other infrastructure. There is already the 30-year obligation to the site as far as monitoring, he said. There would be a lot of cost and effort finding another site that is as suitable as the landfill site.

The estimate of $1.5 million was given for the transfer site. There has been a lot of fluctuation in construction cost, but Hinshelwood said he still feels comfortable giving that estimate to the county.

"The design of the transfer station is ongoing, and I think we can get that wrapped up in a couple months and begin the bidding process. Construction will likely begin in August and take six to seven months. Following that, the county will have to contract with a disposal vendor. The county has a number of options, he said.

If nothing goes wrong, Hinshelwood expects the transfer station to begin operation in July 2008.

"That makes for a nice window during which the transfer station operators can get up to speed while the landfill is still open," he said.

For five months after the transfer station opens, the landfill will still be operational.

The closure process of the landfill may be extended since it is slated to take place through the winter of 2008 and 2009.

The DEQ is usually receptive to moving such projects to the summer, Hinshelwood said.

"The DEQ is not interested in construction work suffering because of poor weather conditions. In the past, they have been supportive of requests to shift that closure period to a better season," he said.

Supervisor Paul Fields asked how much it would cost monthly to haul waste.

"You are facing increased costs," Hinshelwood said. "The total cost per household was calculated at about $5 a month currently. That will probably be doubling (with the transfer station). Now costs will have to go to a modern landfill and pay tipping fees and regulatory costs. You have been fortunate to be able to use the old landfill as long as you have."

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