Landfill report raises questions on future space for solid waste

Published 8:42 pm Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Decatur County received a report from the Harbin Engineering, P.C. detailing their remaining capacity for the year 2015 at the Decatur County Landfill, and the information provided was cause for alarm with the Board of Commissioners.

According to the report, data shows that Cell 5 at the landfill will be completed in three years and ready to handle solid waste when cells 1-4 have reached their capacity. However, an increased waste-stream from BASF reduces the remaining capacity for cells 1-4 from just over three years, ideal timing for the completion of Cell 5, to 1.6 years.

If this rate of roughly 600 tons of solid waste per day continues, Decatur County will have nowhere to put the trash.

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Decatur County administrator Alan Thomas said it wasn’t time to hit the panic button, but it was time to get ahead of the problem.

“It’s simple math. If you run out of space in 1.6 years and it takes you three years, that means we will be without a place to put landfill materials with solid waste until the next cell is completed,” Thomas said. “It is time for us to start considering some options to get ahead of this.”

The report recommended modifying Decatur County’s permit and the scope of the construction phase of Cell 5 into two smaller pieces to help create space quicker.

Thomas said he planned to return before the board with further recommendations on how to tackle the issue.

“It is not my intent and position to operate a landfill without any space,” Thomas said. “So I can assure you, I will make recommendations in the near future in order for us to get ahead of where we are now.”

The life expectancy, or time it takes to fill up, Cell 5 is 9.5 years (12.7 acres), 9.2 years for Cell 6 (14.5 acres) and 13 years for Cell 7 (20.2 acres).

The report also brings up two choices that the county can consider: selling to landfill to a private company or continuing to operate it and collecting the tipping fee revenue, which amounts to more than $73 million for the remainder of 2015.

Thomas’ opinion is the county continues to operate it, he said.