LUMBERTON — New Hanover County officials are still pondering whether to accept a contract with a solid waste disposal company that would collect and dispose of New Hanover trash in Robeson County’s landfill in St. Pauls.
The agreement could result in Robeson County making an annual profit of between $2 million and $3 million.
A New Hanover County spokesperson said last week that the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will discuss their trash issue at a meeting on April 21.
Steve Edge, Robeson County’s Solid Waste director, said that if Robeson County opts to enter into an agreement to take New Hanover trash the county would first have to amend its state landfill operating permit, at a cost of $50,000, to provide for the additional waste that would be disposed of at the landfill. That would take about 60 days, Edge said.
“I don’t plan to move forward to amend our operating permit until it’s certain that we are going to be getting New Hanover trash,” Edge said. “I don’t plan to waste money.”
Under the plan that would land New Hanover trash in Robeson County, the primary contractor would be Waste Management. Robeson County would be the subcontractor, providing Waste Management with a place to transport and dispose of the trash.
A second company, Waste Industries, is also vying for the contract with New Hanover County, the home of the port city of Wilmington. How to handle disposal of its increasing trash load because of limited space has been an issue in New Hanover for three decades, according to a recent story in The Star News newspaper of Wilmington.
Edge said recently that the proposed 10-year contract being considered includes an option of renewing the contract for two additional five-year periods and calls for a minimum of 130,000 tons of New Hanover trash to be shipped annually to Robeson County for disposal. The maximum amount of trash to be transported into Robeson County would be around 200,000 tons each year, with the total tonnage of trash coming into Robeson depending on what New Hanover County decides to do with approximately 60,000 tons of construction and demolition trash.
Edge said Friday that although coal ash is disposed of in New Hanover County there are no plans to bring any of the ash into Robeson County.
“There are no plans in this contract to bring coal ash into the county,” Edge said. “This absolutely has not even been discussed.”
Edge has proposed that the county lease 10 trucks and 15 trailers to haul the trash from New Hanover to Robeson. He said his recommendation also calls for the hiring of 10 new drivers and a driver coordinator.
Edge has recommended that any contract call for a $31 gate fee for trash coming from New Hanover into the Robeson County landfill. The fee includes $2 charged by the state for trash disposed in the county landfill.
The current gate fee charged to anyone now bringing trash to the landfill is $36.50.
Edge said that the county’s landfill, with enough space and room for expansion for another 60 years and more, can easily handle the amount of trash coming from New Hanover. He also said the additional trash can be disposed of without hurting the health of county residents or the environment.
Edge said that although New Hanover accepts coal ash in its landfill, none would be transported to Robeson County.
The Robeson County commissioners voted six to one last month in favor of pursuing negotiations of a contract. Commissioner Jerry Stephens cast the lone no vote. Commissioner Hubert Sealey was not present at the meeting.