Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

TOP STORY > >Landfill to grow across freeway

By RICK KRON AND ALIYA FELDMAN
Leader staff writers

The landfill mound on the east side of Highway 67/167, just south of I-440, will stop growing in August as Waste Management switches its Two Pine operation to the north side of I-440 to build another dump.

David Conrad, director of landfill operations at Two Pine, said construction started about two weeks ago on 10 acres of land and should be completed by Labor Day.

“We’ve started construction on the first landfill cell and the liner system,” Conrad said.

The new dump will eventually cover most of 144 acres to the north of I-440 and rise to a height of 462 feet. The total will eventually create 239.5 acres of trash.

The waste company’s plans to expand were approved April 21 despite objection from Jacksonville residents.

“We’re pleased to have it behind us. We’ve been working on it since 1999, and it’s time to move forward and focus on construction and operations,” Conrad said.

“We’ll be bringing our current landfill to its final elevations by August and capping it right after that,” Conrad said.

“Next year, we’ll open cell two and possibly cell three,” he said. Each cell is about 10 acres.

Alderman Terry Sansing said, “I figured that it was a rubber stamp and a done deal a long time ago. Holding public hearings is nothing but a formality.”

He said he was not a member of the city council when it approved the expansion in 1999.

“It became a done deal when the city did not fight it 10 years ago,” he said. “The city council unfortunately cannot do anything today because their hands were tied 10 years ago.

“We have a big push going on to try to clean up Jacksonville and try to beautify Jacksonville. It doesn’t make sense (to say),
‘Let’s make everybody mow their yards,’ but not make everyone worry about a trash dump in our city limits.”

Doug Szehner, of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, said there was no technical or legal reason to deny the permit.

“With any permit application we receive,” Szehner said, “we are essentially limited in how we can deal with that. If an application meets the technical and legal criteria that apply, case law developed over the years says we have no option but to approve the permit.”

Szehner said it takes a long time for permits to be approved. “It’s not unusual for landfill permits to take several years,” he said. “Issues that come into play include engineering, soils, topography and hydrology and even under good circumstances, it will take a long time to process these applications.”