Trash from SIPS property affects airport health, safety

Published 8:57 pm Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A pile of trash at the Decatur County Industrial Park has residents worried the mess might lead to bigger problems down the road.

Doug Young spoke on behalf of the Decatur County Airport at the County Commission meeting Tuesday to ask for help cleaning the large pile of foam debris and wood on the SIPS Team USA property.

Young showed the commission photographs he had taken of debris that had blown off SIPS property throughout the hangars and brought along a few larger pieces of foam trash found at the airport.

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“It is now all over the east end of the airport on taxi ways and in private hangars, and is an immediate danger to personal property and people,” Young said. “If this debris is sucked into a jet engine, it would be extremely expensive to repair and potentially put lives in danger.”

Ron Harrigan, president of SIPS, said he was not happy either with the large pile of trash his company had produced and the potential damage it could cause to the neighboring airport.

“Yes we have a problem,” Harrigan said. “I’m the first one to admit it. I’m not happy with it, and yes, we have taken loads out over the past years.”
Yet SIPS has not made any significant progress over the past two years to shrink the pile of trash or prevent debris from blowing onto airport property, Young said.

Young asked the commission to take immediate action and clean up SIPS’s property with county forces, then bill SIPS for the job.

Harrigan’s trouble is much of the trash is non-recyclable or sellable. The solution he decided on in the past month is to compress large bags of foam and sawdust using a compression truck, then ship them to the Decatur County Landfill.

Harrigan said he would have that process tested in the next week. If the process works, he said he would be able to clean out the majority of the trash pile within 45 days, with noticeable improvement in five days.

“The bottom line is everybody has heard every excuse in the world,” Commissioner Russell Smith said. “We need the pile cleaned up. The pilots need the pile cleaned up. The county needs the pile cleaned up. It’s an eyesore, even if it didn’t make a hazard for the pilots.”

Harrigan was asked by the commission to return at the next County Commission meeting on Aug. 26 to give an update on the cleanup.

“I think we all understand the liability we’re facing,” Decatur County Chairman Frank Loeffler said.