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Snook wants public works director to look at exporting trash

February 03, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook has asked Public Works Director Gary Rohrer to investigate the possibility of exporting county trash to West Virginia or Pennsylvania for at least several years.

Snook said he was not advocating the idea, but wants to spark discussion for the benefit of the four new County Commissioners.

Snook, the only commissioner who returned to office this year, said the other commissioners should be aware that the option exists.

Exporting garbage would delay some costs involved in opening the new Lund Landfill, which will replace the Resh Sanitary Landfill.

One-fifth, or almost $6 million, of the county's proposed $30 million capital improvement program for the 2000 budget year involves expenses related to the Lund and Resh landfills.

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The six-year capital improvement program estimates it will cost $24.5 million to close one landfill and prepare a replacement.

Lund will provide the county with landfill space for 80 years, Rohrer said.

Resh will run out of space for trash in about 30 months, while Lund should open in 24 to 28 months, he said.

While there is always a possibility that Lund will not open in time, Rohrer said he does not think that will be the case.

"We are confident we can do it. But it will be very tight," Rohrer said.

The county needs a backup plan just in case, he said, but he does not think a plan to export trash should be the fall-back plan.

The county could become dependent on private haulers and dumps if they export trash, he said.

"You are totally at their mercy," Rohrer said.

To export trash, the county would need to build a transfer station, at a cost of from $1 million to $2.5 million, he said.

Delaying the Lund opening would interfere with a plan to consolidate the rubble landfill in Williamsport with Lund, he said. It would cost the county another $2.5 million to expand the rubble landfill if it stays where it is, he said.

Rohrer said he will research the idea further and give a presentation in the next few months explaining the benefits and consequences of exporting trash.

The Lund landfill costs include $5 million to build a bridge and access road connecting the site to U.S. 40, he said.

An agreement with nearby property owners locks the county into building a bridge instead of upgrading roads on the same side of the Conococheague as the landfill.

The 425-acre Lund landfill site is tucked in a bend of the Conococheague Creek near the Resh landfill.

The Resh landfill costs are for meeting federal environmental regulations, he said. The site must be capped to prevent leakage of pollutants into the air and water. The county also must monitor emissions of methane gas, a natural product of decomposing trash.

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