Published: Mar 14, 2012 04:22 PM
Modified: Mar 14, 2012 04:23 PM
HILLSBOROUGH - County Manager Frank Clifton and County Attorney John Roberts recommended limiting the effort and excluding two sites near the landfill because of the high cost and liability.
Orange County will start to clean up some illegal dump sites near its landfill, but getting all the trash will be a challenge and it may not try.
The Orange County commissioners unanimously approved a plan Tuesday night to do a one-time clean-up of illegal dump sites within a 3/4 mile radius the county landfill.
County Manager Frank Clifton and County Attorney John Roberts recommended limiting the effort and excluding two sites near the landfill because of the high cost and liability.
The commissioners agreed to clean up illegal dumps last year after voting to close the landfill by June 30, 2013.
As the county began investigating, however, it found two abandoned sites that were once unregulated for-profit dumps. Clifton said the county should not touch those sites – one west of Rogers Road and north of Tallyho Trail and the other east of Rogers Road west of Edgar Street – because the county doesn’t know what is buried there.
“You don’t touch this because the potential is there for state and federal liability,” Roberts explained. “The county can’t afford that, county taxpayers can’t afford [that].”
Cleaning up the remaining sites will cost at least $50,000. The effort will target surface waste “but not in large quantities and not buried in any way shape or form,” said Assistant County Manager Michael Talbert.
Commissioner Pam Hemminger said she is frustrated the county can’t do more
“There’s hazardous waste just sitting out there ... and we’re just supposed to fence them off and ignore them,” she said.
But Commissioner Valerie Foushee said it would be irresponsible to move forward “when we don’t have an idea of what the implications are.”
The clean-up plan falls short of what the commissioners promised last year, said the Rev. Robert Campbell, president of the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association.
The commissioners originally said they would clean up all the illegal dump sites, he said.
“The report from the county is incomplete, the record is written,” he said. “It’s a county review of its own liability. It is not a plan to address them which is what you (had) instructed your staff to do.”
The county health department will continue to evaluate ground water for contamination in wells near the landfill and will notify property owners within the 3/4 mile radius about the clean-up effort.