Published: Jul 07, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Jul 07, 2012 03:50 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Chapel Hill may begin trucking some of its garbage to Durham before the county landfill closes.
The Town Council unanimously agreed last month to solicit contract proposals for private companies to collect and haul the town’s trash and to research possible sites for a new transfer station, where waste would be collected before being hauled farther out.
The recommendations come from a preliminary report by SCS Engineers, a Raleigh-based consultant the town hired to find efficiencies in its waste system and come up with alternatives that would include working with Durham and UNC when the Orange County landfill closes in June 2013.
“We are really excited about our conversations with the city of Durham,” said Town Manager Roger Stancil. “We believe we can bring UNC to the table to talk about options on a regional basis.”
Trucking some of Chapel Hill’s garbage to Durham beginning in October would be cheaper than continuing to truck all the town’s waste to the Orange County landfill on Eubanks Road, Stancil said.
The council agreed to consider the potential cost savings this fall and then decide whether to pick some collection routes to start sending trash to a Durham transfer station.
Orange County charges at least $57 per ton to dump trash in its landfill. The cheapest advertised rate for dumping in the area is $42.50 per ton, said Bob Dick, project director for the SCS study.
SCS will also study the town’s current garbage routes route and collection technology starting in December, Dick said. Broken agreement
Chapel Hill can break its solid waste agreement with Orange County because the county has already broken it, said Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos.
The town had agreed to send all of its garbage to the county landfill within town limits. If one party wanted to change the agreement, it needed to give at least two years notice, and the county did not do that, Karpinos said.
“There’s an argument to be made [that] we are under an obligation to give our trash to the landfill,” he said. “There’s also an argument to be made that they’ve already violated the agreement by deciding to close the landfill without adequate notice. It affords us an opportunity to move forward.”
The Board of County Commissioners announced in October 2011 that it would close the landfill in June 2013, a few months shy of a two-year notice.
If Chapel Hill reroutes some of its trash to Durham before the county landfill closes, it would cost the county thousands and reduce the amount of money set aside for the Rogers Road community center.
Five dollars of the county’s per ton fee goes towards the Rogers Road mitigation fund to compensate neighbors for living beside the landfill, said Gayle Wilson, Orange County’s solid waste director. “We did count on the revenue,” he said. “We weren’t aware the town was planning on divert[ing] a quantity of waste.”
Council member Jim Ward said he needed to understand the impact of diverting the waste before he could support the move.
“I don’t want to act and I don’t want to appear to act vindictive towards Orange County,” Ward said.
Others were less reserved.
“I don’t give a damn about what Orange County thinks about where we put our trash; they made a decision to close (the landfill),” said council member Gene Pease.
“I don’t know why it would be considered vindictive,” said council member Matt Czajkowski. “If we could save money for the Town of Chapel Hill, indeed, save money for the Town of Chapel Hill.”