Friday, Feb 5–Mining Project To Ease Demand On County Landfill

SNOW HILL – A plan to mine and reclaim part of Worcester County’s landfill to hold more garbage, delaying the construction of costly new landfill cells, is on track to begin early this year.

The county’s Public Works Department will screen through the contents of cell 1, the oldest part of the landfill, to reclaim recyclables, add to its store of cover material and provide enough space for future trash to put off the construction of another cell at the landfill for years.

According to county public works, roughly 1.1 million cubic yards of trash would be relocated from the cell for recycling and re-use. The landfill cell, once mined, would then be relined in accordance with current state of Maryland regulations and the re-claimed space re-used.

Cell 1 was built in 1990 and used until 1997. The landfill mining project should cost about $2.2 million, not including future costs for a new lining. An entirely new landfill cell would cost $9.1 million, according to county staff.

The mining work will be new territory for staff, said county Public Works Director John Tustin. Staff does have experience reclaiming material from the county’s rubble fill site.

Six current landfill workers will be dedicated to the mining project at cell one for the next two years, until the project is complete, Tustin said.

Plans show that the work should be finished in October 2011.

 The county will save money on landfill operations as well as new construction through the mining process.

“We’ll be saving on borrow material,” Tustin said.

Every week, the landfill covers over the most recent layer of trash in the current cells with a layer of dirt, Worcester County Landfill Superintendent George Dix said.

The necessary dirt either has to be sourced from county borrow sites or purchased.

“Dirt, in years to come, there’ll be a shortfall,” Dix said.

There’s a lot of dirt to be reclaimed from cell 1, he said.

“I think it’s a very innovative thing Worcester County is doing,” said Worcester County Commissioner Judy Boggs.

“We feel confident with the project,” Tustin said.

However, he said, staff will not feel 100 percent confident until they achieve some measure of experience with the mining process.

The only question the County Commissioners had on the landfill mining project at their meeting Tuesday concerned the costly lease of power screen equipment.

Renting the screen equipment at a cost of $540,000 seems high, said Commissioner Bobby Cowger, and he would rather see that machinery purchased.

That estimate is on the high side for planning purposes, Tustin said. The cost for the power screen rental is included in the overall $2.2 million project cost.

Purchasing that screen machinery could cost up to $400,000, staff said.

Screens wear out quickly, noted Dix. Screens can be replaced as they wear out, said Cowger. Leasing the machinery just makes money for the owner of that equipment, he pointed out.

Cowger asked staff to look further into the equipment question. The commissioners agreed to ask staff to delve further into the question of lease vs. purchase of the screen machinery.

The cell should be reclaimed, relined, and ready for use within three years.

“I think the concept and the idea are great,” Cowger said.