03/21/07 — County concerned about plan to increase solid waste fees

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County concerned about plan to increase solid waste fees

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on March 21, 2007 1:52 PM

For now, Wayne County has one of the lowest solid waste tipping fees in the state, but local solid waste officials said legislation being considered in Raleigh would cause a dramatic increase in the cost of doing business.

The North Carolina Depart-ment of Environment and Natural Resources is pushing for several proposals to be included in the Solid Waste Management Act of 2007. And the only organization that will benefit from the changes is department itself, county solid waste director Lloyd Cook said.

"These proposals by DENR could cost the county millions in the coming years," Cook told commissioners during their a recent legislative work session.

One of the suggestions that is already in Gov. Mike Easley's budget is requiring that landfills increase their tipping fees by $2 per ton, which would be forwarded to DENR.

The county's current tipping fee rate is $23, which is one of the lowest in the state, Cook said. The increase would generate an additional $275,000 annually that is handed over to the state.

"This would make us have to increase our tipping fees, which makes the haulers increase their fees and that eventually comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers," Cook said.

Other proposed changes could make the county's tipping fee increase to $35 per ton.

Some state officials also want a project engineer to inspect the construction of a landfill, meaning two engineering firms would be involved on the same project. Cook said this proposal is unnecessary because the initial designing firm is certified by the state.

Also, DENR wants to require that landfills implement a double liner system for cells. The Wayne landfill near Dudley places the county's waste in plastic-lined cells to prevent contamination. The property in and around the existing landfill also has natural clay growing in the soil, which can be used to provide an additional layer of protection from contaminating the soil and local waterways.

The department's recommendation asks that a leak detection system be placed between the two liners and include an additional low permeability layer under the secondary liner.

Local landfills would also have to pay thousands more for the necessary permits. The county would even be charged $1,000 annually for the closed landfill near Pikeville under DENR's proposals, Cook said.

Although state legislators have not taken any action on the proposed changes, Cook said there is only one winner if the changes are approved.

"The winners here are DENR and the consultants they hire," Cook said.