County considers landfill closing and eco-devo position

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
The Marion County Commission Friday pushed ahead on closing the old landfill southwest of Marion, and possibly hiring an economic director by another name.

The three commissioners voted to put $50,000 outside the general fund in the 2005 budget for use in hiring what would be called either an economic director, a county counselor or a county manager.

It was in part a compromise measure with Commissioner Bob Hein reluctant to move toward hiring an economic director when he said constituents are telling him they are against it.

First, though, on the subject of the landfill, the commissioners asked Jack Chappelle of Engineering Solutions & Design Inc., Overland Park, to make a proposal for contracting on the landfill closure.

The commissioners seemed to consider a contract only a formality, with Chappelle asked to begin work already on matters such as contacting the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Chappelle estimated that no matter what the contract basis for his services will be, he will come in at a maximum price to the county of $35,000 with minimums in the $15,000 to $20,000 range.

Commissioners penciling out figures during the meeting were beginning to estimate the total landfill closure could come in at $600,000 or less, depending on how the work is done and KDHE’s requirements.

Chappelle said he had “done a drive-by” of the landfill, and brought in a letter from Nov. 29, 2001, from KDHE’s Bureau of Waste Management to the Marion County Commission outlining requirements at that time.

The county apparently no longer has a copy of the letter, and Chappelle thought it had been given to James Kaup, Topeka attorney for the county in a lawsuit dispute with KDHE. The letter indicated KDHEBWM had done drawings of the landfill, and Chappelle will try to obtain copies of those.

The landfill was operated by a private company with a bankruptcy involved. The county was named responsible for its closing by KDHE as the embodiment of the people of Marion County who were held responsible for depositing most of the waste there. Apparently the county’s distance in terms of responsibility for operation of the landfill is contributing to a need on the part of the Marion County Commission to discover what actually is there.

For instance, Chappelle said at one time there were indications that there may be six test wells on the site when it is probable only three will be required by KDHE for closure. However, there may be a need to safely cap some wells because they may be in a state of collapse or disrepair, he said.

Commission Chairman Leroy Wetta said since settlement of the lawsuit, determined with intervention from the Kansas Supreme Court, the manner in which the landfill will be closed “has remained open-ended.” He said the commission needs the services of an engineer like Chappelle to guide it through doing the job correctly.

Hein added, “We have to get moving on it.”

The commissioners intend to use the county’s road and bridge employees and equipment to do most of the dirt moving and covering of the landfill.

Wetta said the county is in a good position to provide dirt for the project because it owns the land it will come from.

Chappelle said in a “best-case situation,” which he also thinks is probable, the county will only have to put 18 inches of loose-fill dirt over the waste site, and plant it to vegetation cover. That would involve 120,000 cubic feet of dirt per acre-400,000 yards of dirt total, he said.

Other scenarios may involve more passages over the site for compaction or additional dirt. Each passage would involve more fuel used, more equipment time, and more expense.

“One key element,” he said, “will be using the proper material and proper slope so water runs off.”

Collett brought up different options for owning or leasing dirt moving or compaction equipment.

Chappelle said the county can stay flexible in how it goes about getting equipment on the job.

He added that it probably can gain additional flexibility on extending timeline on the job up to 18 months by clearly outlining to KDHE how it will use its employees during off-peak months for road maintenance, such as November, December and January.

Chappelle confirmed Collett’s observation that it could give the county the option of going to a private contractor to finish the job if the road and bridge crew is unable to do so in an allotted time.

Chappelle said KDHE will be more cooperative in working with the county within its own limitations if the commissioners “are proactive,” taking definite actions to get the job done.

He expects procedures to be similar to those already used on a closing in McPherson County. “I don’t see any complications,” he said.

“But we also want to look at it from the perspective that we don’t want anything to come back to haunt you later. It will probably involve two guys going out twice a year to check it after it’s closed. There probably will be monitoring required for 30 years.

“The biggest level of action at the start will be getting the plan worked out that will also satisfy KDHE.”

Chappelle said there is a possibility the county could be required to take as many as four samples annually for laboratory at approximate cost of $40,000 annually from depths of 26 and 60 feet. Monitoring wells could cost $1,500 each, he said.

Collett said there has been no report on monitoring at the landfill by KDHE or any other entity during the four years of term by the current Commission.

Chappelle suggested the commissioners contact the Gross family that owned the company operating the landfill to obtain the landfill plan of operation, how waste was deposited and construction done for maintenance or expansion.



A fuller report of this meeting will appear in the Free Press Extra.

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