Leader Blues

Monday, February 23, 2009

TOP STORY >> Trash haulers see slowdown

By ALIYA FELDMAN
Leader editor

Jacksonville’s landfill addition is in business, but the waste company has delayed closing the original dump.

The addition, which is doubling the size of the dump, was approved in 2008 with the understanding that the first dump would close last August.

The dump’s management blames the slowing economy and receipt of less trash for its continued use. The new landfill opened on Jan. 20.

“The old landfill has not been capped. We are currently developing construction plans for the capping project,” David Conrad, director of landfill operations at Two Pine, said.

The old landfill stopped taking trash temporarily on Jan. 19, but will open again for use, Conrad said. He had previously asked the state if both landfills could be used simultaneously, but that request was denied.

He said the old landfill will be opened for use again sometime between May and July.

“We pulled off of the old landfill in January due to high winds. By late summer, we should be done filling in the old landfill,” Conrad said.

Two Pine representatives at Jacksonville City Council meetings and a public meeting last spring, said the original landfill would be at capacity by last August.

Conrad said that much less trash is coming into the dump because businesses are closing and less shopping is being done as a result of the bad economy.

He said the dump averaged 1,800 to 2,000 tons of trash a day last year. Now about 1,200 to 1,400 tons make it there.

Conrad said the dump is permitted to be 430 feet above sea level. “We’re at top elevation,” he said.

It sits on about 96 acres of land at the intersection of Hwy. 67/167 and I-440. Waste Management owns 530 acres there. The new dump, when included with the existing trash mound, will bring the total trash range to 239 acres. It is permitted to hold 34.4 million tons of trash for 24 years.

The old dump is not yet at lateral capacity. “If you drive by, part of the landfill looks like a saddle,” he said. “On each end, there are two higher parts.”

“The tops of the saddle are at final grade,” he said. He said “the middle of the saddle” has room to dump more trash. Until that happens, the original dump will be available for use.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), which regulates disposal of trash and other potentially hazardous materials, approved the landfill expansion on April 21 last year.

“Approved closure and final cover plans for the existing landfill were already in place before the expansion was approved,” Aaron Sadler, a spokesman for ADEQ, said.

“We’re developing construction drawings to tell a contractor to do the capping,” Conrad said.

He said he hopes capping will start by late spring.

“We just want to clarify what the different layers of the cap would be,” Conrad said.
Over the more than 30 years the dump has been in use, there have been various designs. Conrad said he wants to “cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s.”

He said 35 acres are planned for capping in 2009 and 20 acres in 2010.

Capping includes landscaping intended to make the mound look more appealing than a trash heap.

A liner made from polyethylene is put down beneath soil and vegetation to prevent leakage.

The grass planted on a closed dump is considered landscaping, according to Conrad. He said I-440 was built too close to the dump for room to plant trees or other plants that could help block the sight of the trash heap at Jacksonville’s entrance.

Last year, concerns were raised at ADEQ about protection against flooding near the dump.

In a letter dated Oct. 14, 2008, ADEQ notified Two Pine that the relief channel that would prevent the landfill and Hwy. 67/167 from flooding was not completed.

“If the relief channel is not completed and waste is allowed to be placed in Cell 1, there is potential for the washout of solid waste, which may pose a hazard to human health and the environment,” the letter stated.

ADEQ later approved beginning stages of the new dump’s construction.

“Engineers for construction of the flood-relief channel in cell 1 of the expansion area provided documentation to ADEQ that showed the channel had been constructed to FEMA and permit requirements.

“Once the documentation was reviewed, ADEQ approved use of that cell in the expansion area,” Sadler said.

Conrad said the landfill has “plenty of capacity for flood waters because the landfill is not built yet…It will be many years before the 144 acres are full.

“The relief channel will be done this summer or spring,” Conrad said.

Wetland mitigation is also planned for completion at that time. Land previously cultivated for soybeans will be restored to bottomland hardwood forest.

“ADEQ reviewed and issued the permit for the landfill based on applicable federal and state regulations that protect human health and the environment.

“In addition, the landfill is inspected by ADEQ inspectors quarterly. Inspectors have not found any problems at the landfill over the past four inspections,” Sadler said.