County solid waste plan remains at a standstill

Published 6:19 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2006

After four meetings, advancement in discussions concerning the Solid Waste Plan are still at a stand still.

The Pearl River County Solid Waste advisory council continues to cover the same topics as in previous meetings, but has gained no ground on a resolution.

Council chairman Richard Swenson said that he and Waste Management District Manager Mike Hall discussed numbers from the previous meeting that were adjusted to reflect a more accurate description of the host benefits the county receives.

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Swenson said he has noticed discrepancies in the figures that Hall has provided in the past on free resident tonnage brought to the site, so a new set of numbers were presented by Hall at last Thursday’s meeting. Numbers provided by Waste Management and the Department of Environmental Quality were not consistent Swenson said.

“I don’t rely on Waste Management numbers. I got an official report on how much garbage went in there,” Swenson said.

Hall said the discrepancy with the numbers from the meeting two weeks ago to the one last Thursday was that he was trying to get a better idea of what the free tonnage was coming into the site. Hall said there are many different ways to look at the answer.

Swenson has said in previous meetings the problem lies with the site using a base tare weight for vehicles going in but does not weigh the vehicle going out, this would give a false average with inconsistent passenger and vehicle weights, Swenson said. Hall said in previous meetings that the site does this to keep traffic moving.

One thing Swenson and Hall agree on is that 2004 figure of 125,000 tons of waste is not enough on whichto run Central Landfill, but Swenson is not clear why the site is having trouble getting the tonnage. There is another major source of tonnage already in the existing coverage area, Abita Springs in St. Tammany Parish, that provided 81,000 tons of waste in 2004, Swenson said. Swenson said Hall informed him that about two thirds of the tonnage from that transfer facility comes to Central Landfill, but the remaining tonnage needs to go to another facility that accepts industrial waste to be used as filler. Only four percent of waste coming into Central comes from surrounding Mississippi counties, Swenson said. To get the required tonnage Waste Management’s new proposal has added more Mississippi counties.

“What good does it do to go farther,” Swenson said about expanding the coverage area.

Swenson said there might not be a need to expand the coverage area since St. Tammany Parish has an increased population just like Pearl River County, which should be able to provide the tonnage needed to keep Central Landfill profitable. Swenson has noticed that tonnage coming from Louisiana has somehow decreased while population has increased. In the month of June of this year Central collected 6,164 tons of waste from Louisiana compared to 6,781 tons of waste collected in 2004, Swenson said. Pearl River County on the other hand has produced 5,715 tons of waste in June compared to 3,163 tons in 2004.

Swenson said he believes that Central would be able to run the facility off of about 150,000 tons a year, like two other Mississippi Waste Management sites have been doing.

Once the Solid Waste Committee comes to some kind of agreement to move forward with Waste Management’s proposal, a public hearing will be held with 30 days prior notice to address public concerns, County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said. From that point the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors will have up to 90 days to vote in it, Lumpkin said.

Once the Advisory Committee decides to move forward with the proposal, then changes will be discussed concerning the host agreement, Lumpkin said

Hall said the reason the host agreement will be worked out last is to ensure it won’t be a waste of time for Waste Management. The new host agreement should be worked out between Hall and the county supervisors, Hall said. Hall said he would like to see the host agreement changed to allow county residents bring as much waste as they want, within reason, in their own private vehicle. Contracted waste carriers would still be charged a fee, Hall said.

Swenson said that while the current benefits the county receives, close to $2.27 a ton with all benefits factored in, he would like to see the county get a better deal.