Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Company seeks to mothball Gulf Shores landfill

Originally Published by the Mobile Press Register


Emerald Waste Service seeks to lease struggling county facility, reserve it for next storm cleanup

Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Staff Reporter
GULF SHORES — With space dwindling at its construction and demolition debris landfill off Ala. 59, Emerald Waste Services has proposed mothballing the Landward Drive facility and instead leasing Baldwin County's struggling Eastfork Landfill in the Elberta area, according to city and county officials.

The Freeport, Fla.-based waste company has asked Gulf Shores to support its efforts to take over operations at the county landfill and in exchange has offered to reserve the Landward Drive landfill's remaining capacity for a post-hurricane cleanup.

Gulf Shores Public Works Director Mark Acreman said Monday that Emerald Waste Services has estimated that the landfill, which sits across Ala. 59 from Pelican Place at Craft Farms, has room left for about two years of typical construction and demolition debris or one major storm cleanup.
Gulf Shores currently takes its C&D waste, anything from vegetative debris to the remains of buildings, to the facility, but will have to switch to Baldwin County's Magnolia Landfill if the proposal comes to fruition. Although Gulf Shores would spend more in fuel and man-hours to haul waste to Magnolia Landfill, which is southwest of Summerdale, the city would ultimately see savings because of reduced tipping fees at the county facility, Acreman said.

Gulf Shores might further reduce its waste disposal costs through a vegetative debris recycling program it is developing with the owners of a Mobile County paper mill, Acreman said.

Under that plan, the city would take tree limbs and other vegetative trash to the Landward Drive landfill where the paper company would have it collected and hauled to Mobile where it would be burned as fuel for the factory, Acreman said. While the city would pay a fee in that arrangement, it would be far less than what it costs to dump the debris in a landfill, the public works director said.

"If this pilot program can get off the ground we may see substantial savings," Acreman told elected officials during a City Council work session on Monday. "That would be something that we think we can maintain in perpetuity if it's a good deal for everyone involved."

Baldwin County Solid Waste Director Jim Ransom told council members that he and Emerald Waste Services wanted a letter from the council supporting the plan before the Baldwin County Commission is approached with a formal proposal to lease Eastfork to the private company.

Located northeast of Elberta on C.C. Road, the Eastfork, which only accepts construction and demolition debris, was originally opened in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.

"It did really well and then we shut it down," Ransom said.

With vast residential growth forecast for easternmost Baldwin County, the 115-acre facili ty was reopened in March 2007.

"Of course everything sort of went south after that, so it's losing us money right now," Ransom said.

In the first eight months after it was reopened, county officials estimated that Eastfork lost $100,000. At the time, the landfill was receiving only about a quarter of the 100 tons of debris it needed each day to break even.

Leasing the facility to Emer ald Waste Services and closing the northern Gulf Shores landfill would not only stanch the county's losses, it could eliminate the private company's taxpayer-funded competition for debris in south Baldwin County, Ransom said.

The plan could also save Gulf Shores money during its next hurricane cleanup by guaranteeing the city a very close place to pitch all its debris, Acreman said.

"We think it's a good idea for all involved and you don't see that often," Ransom said.

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