Landfill to seek funds for studies on life left at site

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, November 7, 2017

As the county faces the issue of aging infrastructure at its landfill, the committee which oversees the facility’s operations is looking toward the future.

The Landfill Committee authorized Solid Waste Director Benny Lyons to petition the county’s budget committee for money to fund needed studies at the landfill. During a recent review of landfill operations, Kim Raia, an environmental consultant from the University of Tennessee’s County Technical Assistance Service estimated the county’s “demolition” (or “demo”) landfill only has about three to five years of service left.

On Tuesday, Lyons told the Elizabethton Star the studies recommended by Raia will help the county to determine how much life is left in the landfill. One of the studies, Lyons said, will examine the boundary surveys on the back of the property for the current demo landfill to see how close the site is to the boundary. When the landfill was permitted by the state, a footprint for the site was approved. Determining how close the current landfill is to that footprint boundary will help calculate the amount of available space left at the current site.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The demo landfill is the depository for waste such commonly associated with demolition such as plywood, sheetrock, shingles, lumber, as well as furniture such as couches and mattresses. No household waste goes into the demo site.

The county’s Class I landfill which took household waste has been closed for several years. The county currently operates a transfer station for household waste where county residents drop their garbage at the landfill, and the county then pays to haul and dispose of it at a private landfill facility.

“We are bound by the state to have somewhere for the public to take their household trash,” Lyons said, adding there is no requirement from the state for the county to operate a demo landfill. “We are the only county in this region to operate a demo landfill.”

Lyons said he has applied for a permit through the state to operate an air curtain incinerator at the landfill which would help eliminate some of the items currently making their way to the demo landfill while also providing a service to the citizens and generating additional revenue at the same time.

The air curtain incinerator would allow the landfill to begin burning brush and some of the wood items which would otherwise end up in the landfill. The machine uses air flow control to prevent emissions from the incinerator.

The landfill used to accept brush at the same gate rate as trash but has had to stop taking it in. If the permit is approved and the county can purchase the special incinerator, the landfill could once again begin accepting brush, which would bring in additional revenue through the gate fees.

“I think it would be something eventually we could help out the City of Elizabethton with their brush,” Lyons said, adding the city has to pay to transport their brush to another facility for disposal.

If the permit is approved, Lyons said he would approach the budget committee regarding funds to purchase the air curtain incinerator. A new incinerator would cost around $125,000, but Lyons said he had found a used machine priced between $20,000 and $30,000.