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Landfill days are numbered

Without changes to the way the Hartselle landfill takes in unwanted trash to be buried there, the days are numbered for the city’s landfill.

At the current rate of intake, the landfill will be full within 24 to 36 months.

The landfill currently accepts yard waste, wood, paper, plastic, scrap metal, cardboard, furniture, carpet and construction waste. Household garbage is taken but is transferred to the Morgan County Regional Landfill.

The landfill does not accept paint, chemicals, asbestos, medical waste or other hazardous waste items. The landfill only accepts waste generated inside the city limits of Hartselle.

Since taking the position of Public Works director, Daxton Maze has been looking for solutions to increase the life expectancy of the landfill.

One solution would be to close the dump, however that solution is not simple or cheap. The cost of closing the Hartselle landfill could cost the cash-strapped city $500,000 to $1 million dollars.

If closed, the landfill would have to be finished graded with 18 inches of infiltration soil material and another six inches of erosion prevention soil material that can establish vegetative growth across the entire site. Permits would also be required from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for the closed landfill. This would requirer a 30 Year Post Closure Maintenance Plan.

Other available options include no longer accepting trash from residents and contractors. The trash now being buried at the landfill would be hauled to the regional landfill just as household solid waste is now.

By ending public use of the landfill, the life of the landfill could be increased substantially, since only the city would be using the landfill for disposing of items picked up by public works and small amounts of construction debris. This would eliminate actually closing the facility and incurring the closing cost.

Maze has helped develop a plan that would increase the life of the landfill, expand its size and enable the city to continue offering the services to the citizens of Hartselle.

“We have the space why not use it,” Maze said to the council at a recent work session.

There are two options to the plan, which involves mitigating 310 linear feet of a stream that flows through the landfill. Both options would increase the capacity of the landfill by 36,000 tons and add eight to ten years to the operational lifespan.

One option consists of purchasing stream credits for another area. Once purchased, this would eliminate the need to mitigate to another location. This would be similar to what the school board was required to do in the construction of the new high school on Bethel Road. The cost would be approximately $99,000, including permits, jurisdictional determination and coordination, the actual stream credit cost and the cost of material and in-house labor for the new space.

The other option would be for the city to mitigate the stream to another area, which would most likely be Sparkman Park. The work would be done to the existing stream at the park and this would be monitored for five years. The cost of this project would be approximately $76,000 and would include permits, studies, application fees, monitoring from an outside source and expanding the landfill for both materials and labor.

Previously, the city wanted to buy land connected to the landfill to increase its capacity and life, but there was a great amount of opposition by property owners near the planned expansion area.

The council will need to discuss and determine the long-term options that are best for the city concerning the landfill.

Regardless of what the council decides, time is running out on the landfill and decisions need to be made soon.