Published: May 26, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: May 26, 2012 09:42 AM
CHAPEL HILL - A new transfer station for trash is being proposed in Chapel Hill.
A consultant is proposing another site off Millhouse Road between the town’s public works and transportation buildings in a new preliminary report.
It would cost the town $4 million to build a transfer station there and another $346,000 per year to pay it off, according to consultants with SCS Engineers, based in Long Beach, Calif.
The town hired SCS to find efficiencies in the town’s trash collection and disposal system and evaluate alternatives to trucking waste to the Orange County landfill, which is scheduled to close in June 2013.
The Orange County commissioners plan to truck the county’s trash to a Durham transfer station as a short-term solution when the landfill closes. A transfer station is a warehouse-like facility where trash is collected and loaded onto larger trucks for disposal farther away.
The consultant is looking at that option, but a town-operated transfer station on Millhouse Road should at least be considered, said Town Council member Penny Rich, who is a member of a task force looking for ways to pay for water and sewer lines for neighbors of the current county landfill on Eubanks Road.
The site proposed by the consultant is in a different place than a nearby site proposed by former Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy years ago, and would let the town control where its own trash goes.
“I’m still a firm believer that we should take care of our own trash,” said Rich, who doesn’t want to see the town’s garbage buried in someone else’s back yard. “I don’t think we should be shipping our trash to anywhere we’re not in control of.” Durham cheapest
If the town decides to haul its trash across the county-lines, the Durham transfer station is the closest and cheapest, according to the consultant’s report.
Earlier this year Town Manager Roger Stancil said it could cost the town up to $700,000 in extra costs with increased liability costs for employees.
But SCS says trucking trash to Durham would cost significantly less than that, about $247,000. The Durham transfer station charges a lower tipping fee than the Orange County landfill charges, which would save the town hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It would cost the town about $1.4 million to haul trash to and operate a Chapel Hill transfer station in 2014, consultants estimate.
The study is looking at short-term and long-term disposal options and their costs.
In the short-term the town could haul trash to other transfer stations throughout the Triangle, the preliminary report says. Trucking trash to Durham would be the most efficient, but consultants also suggest a partnership with Wake County to use an unused landfill in southern Wake.
In the long-term the town could explore waste-to-energy technology and hire a private company to take care of the town’s waste.
“They’re really looking at our collection side and collection options as well as disposal options out there [and] trying to figure out what would be the best choice for the town and not just looking at the cost but looking at it from a sustainability respective,” said Wendy Simmons, the town’s solid waste services superintendant.
The update is a good start but needs to be more comprehensive, said Bonnie Hauser, president of the rural grassroots group Orange County Voice, who has worked on landfill and trash issues. It’s difficult to say whether a transfer station on Millhouse Road might work without knowing more about whom it would serve and getting other information, she said.
“Until you get your arms around who’s in, until they figure out what it is, they can’t figure out where it’s going to go,” she said.
All options should be considered, including contracting out trash services to a private company, she said.