Stores feel pinch of landfill's shutdown

July 29, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Things that are dropped off at Goodwill stores include new clothes, well-used books, working electronics and decent furniture. And trash.

When the LCS landfill near Hedgesville, W.Va., closes, as it has again this month, the three Goodwill stores in the Eastern Panhandle are just a few of the businesses that feel the effects.

"We're kind of a place of last resort," said Craig MacLean, executive director of Horizon Goodwill Industries, based in Hagerstown. "For us it's terribly important that there be a smooth uninterrupted flow" of trash collection.


Otherwise, piles of donations that add up to nothing more than garbage can cause an eyesore and health concerns, MacLean said.

The landfill closed Tuesday and will reopen at 7 a.m. Monday, according to a phone message on the landfill office's answering machine.

A call to the Martinsburg office of Waste Management was routed to another location, where a representative said she could not answer any questions and did not know who could.

Berkeley County Administrator Deborah Hammond said the landfill closure affects residents, large and small businesses, and other organizations.

Although Hammond said it's not known how much money is lost because of the closure, four to 10 complaints come in to her office every time the landfill shuts down, she said.

Several times this year the landfill has closed because it has been filled to capacity. Per state regulations, the landfill can hold 9,999 tons a month.

LCS wants to go from a Class B to a Class A landfill, which would allow it to accept 15,000 tons of garbage a month.

Hedgesville-area residents are fighting the move, however, saying that landfill odors, garbage truck traffic and trash debris already are problematic.

Although the City of Martinsburg has its own trash trucks and will pick up most garbage over the next few days, other municipalities, including Charles Town, W.Va., rely on Waste Management.

Several weeks ago, officials from Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson counties discussed the idea of opening a new landfill that would be used to dump trash only from the Panhandle.

Waste Management currently has a monopoly in trash pickup, being the only company that picks up garbage in the Panhandle.

"They've got complete control," Berkeley County Commission President Steve Teufel said previously. "Nobody else can do anything."

Another option that has been discussed calls for diverting some trash to a transfer station along Leetown Pike in Jefferson County. From there, it would be loaded onto larger trucks and hauled to a landfill near Richmond, Va.

The transfer station, next to the old Jefferson County Landfill, was established to give county residents another location to dispose of unwanted items. Debris is dumped into containers at the transfer station and taken to another facility.

At Goodwill, trash will continue to collect. Although Waste Management may haul some trash to a landfill in Franklin County, Pa., it will be on a reduced scale because of the additional travel time, MacLean said.

Large items, including furniture, usually are hauled away several times a week by a Goodwill-operated truck, but that truck cannot cross state lines. Now such items will not be removed until the local landfill reopens, MacLean said.

A health concern is created when wet items, which could have mildew, sit around. Such items must be placed outside.

"That immediately creates the public eyesore problem," MacLean said.

The problem is a community one that must be solved, given the continuing population growth, MacLean said.

"They're going to be closing down earlier every month" if nothing is done, he said.

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