Saturday, May 29, 1999

Rumpke to use upgraded landfill


Site's neighbors unhappy on plan

BY RACHEL MELCER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WHITEWATER TOWNSHIP — The area's largest garbage collector has found a way to keep our trash close to home, much to the dismay of residents in Whitewater Township.

        Upgrading an old Monsanto landfill will allow Rumpke Waste Inc. to dump trash locally while still complying with environmental restrictions.

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        The company recently con tracted for the right to fill the 61-acre, 7.4 million-cubic-yard-capacity landfill that straddles the Ohio and Indiana state line.

        Much to the annoyance of local residents, Rumpke is moving dirt to install a drainage system, scales and water runoff pond. Rumpke will likely manage the landfill when the work is through and its trucks begin carrying in waste, sometime after Sept. 1.

        But it will neither own the landfill nor hold its state permit and county license — at least not yet. Under a settlement reached with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in the wake of a massive 1996 garbage slide at “Mount Rumpke” in Colerain Township, the company is restricted from purchasing or expanding a landfill until at least the fall of 2000.

        The landfill plays an important role in Greater Cincinnati's 10-year waste disposal plan.

        Rumpke is just beginning the estimated four-year process of getting permission to expand its Colerain Township facility, which will otherwise be full in about six years. Company officials say they need the Whitewater Township site to provide a buffer and ensure there will be no break in service.

        If Rumpke's landfills fill up, and no others are built in the area, Hamilton County and others in the region would be forced to ship their solid waste some distance — at a greater cost to taxpayers.

        “There is capacity for a limited amount of time,” said Dan Campbell, solid and infectious waste division supervisor in the OEPA's southwest district office. “At the rate that this area is developing, at the rate that people are throwing away material, unless our disposal practices change (to more recycling and reuse) we need more capacity.”

        The Whitewater Township landfill temporarily will remain in the hands of its reluctant owner: St. Louis-based Solutia Inc., a subsidiary of Monsanto.

        “Ultimately, we have an agreement to sell it to Rumpke as soon as they're ready to buy it,” said Solutia spokesman Loren Wassell. “We're not in (the landfill) business.”

        People living around the landfill say they don't care who owns it; they just wish it would go away.

        They have been content to drive along winding, narrow Bond Road without competing for space with garbage-laden semi-trailer trucks. They don't want landfill noises and odors to disrupt their quiet farms and wooded hills.

        “We will have "Mount Rumpke II' here on Bond Road,” said 72-year-old Esther Ziegler, who lives next door and downstream from the disposal site. “If we get the smells like they have up there in Colerain Township, that's all we need.”

        Township officials, echoing residents' fears, say trucks heading to and from the site could cause accidents on a hilly hairpin curve on Bond Road, just west of Lawrence burg Road.

        “This road is not built for tractor-trailer traffic,” said Hubert Brown, president of the Whitewater Township board of trustees. “It's slipping down the hill and the (truck drivers) can't make the turn and they're squeezing residents off the road.”

        Once the site work is complete, an estimated 23 trucks will make the round trip to deliver 700 tons of waste to the landfill per day, according to Dave Meyer, Rumpke's engineering and environmental manager.

        Eventually, the operation will reach an average 1,000 to 1,500 tons — or 33 to 50 trucks — per day, which would continue for about seven years, he said. The EPA permit allows up to 4,000 tons of waste per day to be delivered, although Mr. Meyer said that is not likely.

        He said the company will tell its drivers to be careful on Bond Road and require them to drive slow. But any road repairs or improvements would fall to the site owner.

        Ted Hubbard, Hamilton County chief deputy engineer, said his department is aware of the problem. But since Whitewater Township is the only jurisdiction in the county without zoning authority, there is no process or mechanism to trigger their involvement.

        “We're kind of in an awkward position because we haven't been able to look at any plan on this new waste facility that everyone's talking about,” Mr. Hubbard said. “Generally, (a zoning change) applicant would give us his traffic projections. If there'd be a negative impact, then the developer would have to help us work out a mitigation.”

        Solutia officials said they are aware of the problem and plan to discuss it with local officials.

        As for residents' other concerns, county Health Commissioner Tim Ingram said the landfill will be carefully inspected before any dumping is allowed. The site is suited for that use and no adverse environmental impacts are expected.

        “The biggest issue with that site is transportation. ... There may be a higher probability that there's going to be car injuries” than any environmental health problems, he said.

       



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