County Weighs Options for Future Solid Waste Disposal

October 3, 2012
Dwayne Page
Overton County Solid Waste Transfer Station
Inside Transfer Station (Notice Open Top Semi Truck Trailer to Right)

The county commission last week authorized County Mayor Mike Foster to enter into discussions with a professional engineering company in Sparta which will provide some options for the county to consider for future landfill needs.

"I've met with the Professional Engineering Company out of Sparta and talked to them about a transfer station for our garbage rather than building another Class I cell," said Foster. "They are getting us some numbers together so we can talk about the possibility of building another Class I and Class III/IV cell together; or doing a transfer station and a Class III/IV cell; or doing a transfer station and no Class III/IV cell. The Class III/IV cell would be construction material only. No garbage. And it (Class III/IV cell) doesn't have to be lined with a real expensive liner. We would still have to line it with clay but the leachate would not have to be transported. It could run off like any other storm water. That would be one option. The other option would be to transfer everything to another county and have it hauled away. The third option would be to do just like we've been doing. So maybe by this month (October) we can begin looking at a possible site or two. This is not something that is going to happen right away but we need a tentative agreement to proceed with talks with Professional Engineering about these scenarios," said Foster.

The issue is whether the county should develop a new Class I landfill once the existing site is full within the next two or three years or to establish a solid waste transfer station and maintain a class III/IV cell that doesn't require so many regulations and which would be mainly for construction materials.

Last fall, County Mayor Foster and several local county commissioners visited Overton County's Solid Waste Transfer Station. (Shown in picture above).

Under a transfer station operation, household garbage would continue to be collected at local convenience centers across the county, then loaded onto trucks and brought to the transfer station, where the garbage would be separated from recyclables and then loaded onto semi trucks and transferred to a landfill site in another county. DeKalb would contract for the garbage to be hauled out of county and for the disposal of it at a certain price per ton. The recyclables would be baled and sold.

According to Foster, DeKalb County would have fewer environmental worries about solid waste, if it had its own transfer station or contracted with some entity or company to provide the service. "Right now (at the landfill) we have to put a 40 mil plastic liner over the entire mound of dirt when you're through as well as a 60 mil liner underneath it and then you have to put dirt on top of all that. The costs have just gone through the roof in the last three or four years so we're going to look at the option of doing that (transfer station). We may still want to run a class III/IV cell that doesn't require that (so many regulations) which would be mainly for construction materials and things like that and not household garbage," said Foster

"If we do that (develop a transfer station) we don't have the expense of building a new (Class I landfill) cell which is so expensive because now you have to put a rubber liner under and over it. These environmental issues are overpowering and you have a lot of liability there," In addition, environmental regulations require the county to monitor old landfill sites for several years after they have been closed.

Should the county develop a transfer station, Foster said it would be situated on about a four acre site somewhere in the county. "Ideally it would be better if it were centrally located but we would have room at the (existing) landfill. We would also probably want to keep a Class III/IV cell for construction materials. We've got two or three years to make this decision," said Foster.

Convenience sites would still be required throughout the county and residents could continue to bring their household garbage there or directly to the transfer station.

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