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Refuse piling up at landfill

June 19, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Facing limited capacity at the Forty West Landfill, the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a $2.9 million contract to build a second "cell" at the site to accommodate more trash.

The $13.6 million Forty West Landfill opened in December 2000. The cost of the second cell is not included in that amount, county officials said.

County documents state the second cell must be opened by early December to ensure the county doesn't run out of room at the landfill.

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"The schedule proposed herein is extremely aggressive and prompt action is required by all involved parties," the documents state.

Robert Davenport, director of solid waste, said the first cell has enough space to accommodate trash for seven to eight more months.

"We're really under a time crunch," he said.

Commissioner John Schnebly and Chief Engineer Terrence McGee said Tuesday evening the first cell filled up faster than expected because of increased tonnage dumped at the landfill.

"We didn't think it was going to happen this quickly," McGee said.

Schnebly said that tonnage increased after the county lowered the bulk rates for commercial haulers, attracting more business to the landfill.

Between 400 tons and 425 tons of refuse are dumped daily at the landfill, which is on 425 acres near the Conococheague Creek off U.S. 40, a county official said.

McGee and Schnebly said they did not have information in front of them about how long the first cell was supposed to last.

Director of Public Works Gary Rohrer said Tuesday evening the county had estimated that the first cell would be full at about this time.

"We're pretty much on track to where we thought we would be," Rohrer said.

Two months before the landfill opened in December 2000, a county official said the first cell would have the capacity to take trash for about 2.8 years.

Rohrer said that the second cell originally was supposed to be part of the first cell, but at the time, the county cut the size in half to save money.

A third cell is planned for 2005, according to the county's Capital Improvement Plan.

"How long is this (second) cell going to last?" Commissioner Bert Iseminger asked.

McGee said the second cell should have the capacity to accommodate garbage for about three years.

He said the site is big enough to add many cells. County officials have said the entire landfill has a life-expectancy of 80 to 100 years.

McGee and Rohrer said the first cell shouldn't run out of room before construction of the second cell is completed.

"At this point it doesn't appear that we will," Rohrer said.

McGee said employees at the landfill will monitor the site closely to ensure that there's enough room for garbage until the second cell opens.

"We'll be looking at what goes into the landfill ... and making sure it's being operated properly," he said. "There's no reason to believe it's not now."

McGee said the county hopes to start construction around July 8.

The county hired C. William Hetzer Inc. of Hagerstown to construct the second cell. The contract runs for 147 days and the project is to be completed by Dec. 2.

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