By Stan Welch
Twenty years ago, the Big Creek Landfill was sold to the NationsWaste corporation, in a controversial transaction. Over the ensuing years, the landfill has become the Anderson Regional Landfill (ARL). IT has also changed corporate hands, and is currently owned and operated by Waste Connections of the Carolinas.
One of the first results of the original transaction was the increase of the permitted annual capacity by approximately four hundred per cent, from 85,500 tons to 438,000 tons. That modification effectively changed the facility from a small county dump to a corporate facility which receives waste from a growing number of outside sources. Even as Anderson county continued to grow, and produce more and more solid waste, that capacity remained adequate – until now.
In a letter dated November 20, Tim Fadul, district manager for Waste Connections, requested that discussions begin between the company and the county concerning a lateral expansion of the landfill, with an attendant increase in the tonnage cap. Fadul supports his request by citing an increase in the amount of solid waste received at ARL from 236,757 tons when Waste Connections assumed operations to 426,630 tons last year. The latest amount is essentially the permitted capacity for all practical purposes.
He also pointed out that Anderson County continues to benefit financially from the landfill’s increased activity. The ARL pays a host fee to the county based on tonnage. In their first quarter of running the facility in 2009, the host fee was just over $66,000 per quarter. Their most recent payment was $232,000. The accumulative amount for the last four quarters amounted to $990,761.
According to the letter. The original footprint permitted is 113 acres, which Fadul claims limits the remaining life of the facility
The formal request to begin discussions comes in a possibly unfriendly atmosphere, at least in the Cheddar community.
Councilwoman Cindy Wilson has been a champion of the community, which has more than its share of potential environmental risks. The controversial and disdainful way in which the original sale of the Big Creek Landfill was conducted is still the source of a somewhat tainted perception of the landfill, even though Waste Connections has gone to considerable lengths to pull some of the poison from the bite.
Fadul’s letter refers to the ARL as “the most secured and well run site” and calls the residents and businesses served by ARL the “recipients of the best environmental services available in the state.”
The County Council voted earlier this year to renew the disposal contract with Waste Connections, making them the long term disposal provider.
Unfortunately, and perhaps unfairly, recent fuel spill issues at the nearby tank farm kept tensions about possible environmental issues high, making such proclamations less easily accepted. Impacts of the hundreds of big trucks that come and go on the area’s roads continue to be a thorn in the sides of the area’s residents, as well as a target of Wilson’s attention.
County Administrator Rusty Burns said that each Council member has received a copy of the letter, but he does not anticipate any formal action being taken before the new Council is installed in January.
By Stan Welch