Durham Will Handle Orange County's Trash! Thanks to the new county manager and the efforts of our awesome volunteers, the BoCC decided to send the county's trash to Durham for the next 3-5 years - maybe longer. They also reaffirmed their commitment to keep landfills out of rural Orange County. If it weren't for your support, we suspect that the county would be bulldozing the Howell Property today! This is an incredible win for rural Orange County in the short and long term. As part of their decision, the county will explore options for the long term ranging from regional waste-to-energy, to exiting the trash disposal business completely and letting the towns handle their own trash. The board's decision included a provision to stop further spending on consultants. The commissioners voted 4-3 against the notion of a landfill in Orange County's future -which Commissioner Jacobs correctly reframed as a mechanism for in town communities to dump trash on rural residents. We are pleased that Commissioners Hemminger, Yuhasz and Gordon supported Mr. Jacobs and the rural community with on this important vote. For a recap of the meeting via a Herald Sun article, click here. If you get a chance, please send a note to thank Commissioner Hemminger for holding the mantle for the Board's decision. She was the sole voice of reason a year ago when she voted against the Bingham site. She has been a wise councilor to Orange County Voice -- and encouraged our work on costs and alternatives including waste-to-energy. It took a while, but our message to use vendors and explore responsible waste management solutions for the long term finally saw the light. The Board's action was an encouraging sign of things to come. A well constructed and fact-based report from the new county manager, Frank Clifton, set the stage for an informed discussion and decision-making. It was a win-win, and no community was burdened with the county's trash - most of which is generated by the towns. The commissioners also decided that Eubanks/Millhouse will not be an option for future decisions about the county's trash. They are revisiting the interlocal agreement and new models for handling trash. From our perspective, it doesn't get better.
To see OCV's statement to the BoCC on December 7th, click here.
To view a copy of the thank-you letter sent by OCV to the commissioners, click here.
On December 7th, the County Commissioners will decided what to do with the county’s trash after then landfill closes. After years of work and roughly $500,000 in consulting fees, they considered 3 options:
(1) 100+ acres on west Hwy 54 (Howell Property); (2) 10 acres on Millhouse Road (Paydarfar site); (3) partnering with Durham.
None of these options conform to the county’s “process” and there are important options that have not been considered. The full economics of a Waste Transfer Station have never been disclosed; and the commissioners have not explained the impact of replacing a revenue producing landfill with a costly Waste Transfer Station – regardless of where it's placed.
With your help, Orange County Voice has worked hard to oppose the Bingham site and to offer forward-thinking alternatives to handle the county’s trash in the short and long term. We discovered acres of wetlands on the Howell site and forced an analysis of alternatives – which are still being worked. Below is a recap of our work over the past year.
Recap of OCV’s Work on a County Waste Transfer Station:
Presented strategic and economic alternatives to siting a WTS in Bingham which is too far, too expensive, and adversely impacts the entire county. As alternatives, we suggested:
-- Using the Durham and other vendor transfer stations until a sustainable solution could be found, -- A search for 10 acre sites in non-residential areas, -- Looking at Waste-to-Energy in partnership with other counties, and -- Decentralizing the entire operation
All of these options are all better than siting a WTS in Bingham Township which lacks road and utility (water and sewer) infrastructure. Bingham is a not a fiscally or economically sustainable option.
• Discovered and documented acres of wetlands on the Howell site (in March) that were not disclosed in the county’s original environmental assessment. The wetlands have since been confirmed by the county consultants and the Army Corp of Engineers. According to the county’s process, the site should be immediately disqualified because of these wetlands. • Presented a petition with nearly 1100 signatures opposing a WTS in Bingham Township. • Provided important research on emerging technologies, such as Waste-to-Energy, which offer long-term alternatives to landfills • With community support and funding, mobilized a legal action that’s prepared to proceed if the Howell site is selected. • Corrected misleading reports and mis-information about costs, operating assumptions and environmental impact, provided to the commissioners by the county staff and consultants. • Asked for full disclosure of the fiscal impact of shifting from a revenue-producing landfill to a cost producing waste transfer station.
We remain committed to an informed and proactive campaign to keep a WTS station out of Bingham – not only because the residents don’t want it, but because there are better options for the entire county.
We appreciate the difficulty of the decision that the commissioners face and hope that they realize that a WTS in Bingham Township is not fiscally or economically sustainable.
Where We Stand: Orange County Voice opposes siting a waste transfer station in rural Orange County, on Eubanks Road or in the Hillsborough gateway sites proposed by the county. Instead, we support seeking a suitable site of 5 acres or more in a commercial/industrial area close to where the waste is generated and not in anyone's backyard. We support using private vendors until a suitable site is found.
We believe that county should terminate all work related to the WTS on rural west Hwy 54. It conflicts with surrounding land use and zoing and it is environmentally, socially and fiscally irresponsible. The site is too far from where the waste is generated and the rural area is not suitable for an industrial facility of this nature.
Instead the county should find a site in an industrial area, close to or in town, near a highway (I-40 or I-85), with water, sewer, roads and and power. Any site selected should be part of a plan to move to a sustainable waste management solution for the long term – such as waste to energy. Vendors should be employed to handle the county’s waste disposal until a sustainable long term solution is found.
Working cooperatively with other counties, power companies, and the State towards sustainable solutions might bring to light even better options for the region. We ask the county to engage in intergovernmental discussions now to address these issues around waste and energy which face us all financially and environmentally.
Background For background on the Waste Transfer Station project including the site selection process and why the community objects to it, click here
WTS Environmental Impact
County's Environmental Assessment Report is under attack The county filed an Environmental Assessment with the state. This report is supposed to identify environmental impacts of the WTS at the proposed site. The report is now under scrutiny by environmental experts and community leaders. These experts are finding substantive errors in the county′s report about wetlands, wildlife and other environmental impacts.
Hopefully the opposition will be strong enough for the state DENR (Division of Environment and Natural Resources) to ask the county to complete a full environmental impact analysis (EIS) which would take a long time (six months and possibly much longer) and cost millions of dollars. If an EIS is required, OCV hopes that the county will finally stop work on the Howell site and start looking for better alternatives.
Expert Responses to the Environmental Assessment
• Press Release on the Community′s Reponse to the EA, click here • EA Legal Response, filed by Attorney Jim Conner, click here; & Appendix A, click here • NC Natural Heritage Program response to WTS EA, click here • Letter from Wetlands Expert, confirming wetlands, click here; & Wetlands Expert Soil Report, click here • Letter suggesting risk to wetlands on property, click here • ***UPDATED*** State Transmittal Letter, click here, and NCDENR responses to WTS EA, click here
For the County′s Environmental Assessment and appendices
WTS Costs and Alternatives OCV has done extensive work demonstrating that the county can save millions of tax dollars by using vendors until a better site is found. A better site would be in an industrial area, with water, sewer and road infrastructure and close to town where the waste is generated.
• For our latest analysis of costs for a vendor vs a county operated WTS (March 2009), click here • For our initial analysis of vendor costs (January 2009): • For press release, click here • For OCV statement to the county commissioners, click here • For the report and analysis, click here
On March 31, 2009 the County's consultant, Olver, presented to the OC Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB) a report:Transfer, Haul & Disposal Evaluation, that was requested by the BoCC in response to OCV's request that the county explore alternatives to the Hwy 54 sites. OCV was present at the March 31 SWAB meeting, in addition to the April 2 SWAB meeting, when this report was discussed. The report will be presented to the BoCC on April 21, 2009. OCV believes that the report contains many misrepresentations and factual inaccuracies with respect to costs and environmental concerns, which we have pointed out to SWAB and will present our findings to the Commissioners on April 7, 2009.
**UPDATED*** Click here for a copy of our presentation to the BoCC on April 7, 2009 that points out inaccuracies in the EA and the draft Olver Transfer, Disposal & Haul Evaluation mentioned above.
Residents, farms and businesses surrounding the proposed site have retained counsel and are threatening to sue the county if they proceed with the WTS at the Howell site. OCV has agreed to raise funds to pay for the legal defense.
• For initial letter from attorney to county – requesting mediation rather than lawsuit, click here • Video of First Fundraiser for Legal Defense (December 17, 2008), click here
To donate to the legal action to keep a waste transfer station out of the rural area,click here
Other Developments Follow the links below for more information on the WTS:
OCV participates in a forum on Waste to Energy hosted by the Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB)
• For OCV's statement to SWAB on March 5, 2009, click here • For information from Energy Answers, a leading consultant and developer, click here • For information from Wheelabrator, a WTE company owned by Waste Management, Inc., click here
A citizen has filed a complaint against the county for allowing Howell to build a driveway on without proper approval from the state.
• For Press Release, click here • For Copy of citizen complaint to County on Howell property road, click here • For letter from DOT denying permit, click here
Report on alternative sites for a WTS developed by OCV with support from RENA/CEER and OCCA (December 2008) Joint Community Report on Sustainable Waste Management (December 2008) Executive Summary Click Here Exhibits: Waste To Energy Click Here Resources Click Here Environmental Click Here Site Options Click Here