Guest opinion: Grand County Trash Transfer Station Q&A
Why a transfer station?The county needed a landfill and recycling solution. The Granby landfills life expectancy is only 24 months, and the outer-landfill slide has cost the county $4.5 million to stabilize. Though the slide has settled, the Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) had concerns about investing more taxpayer money in a site that isnt stable. The BOCC also wanted to provide recycling opportunities for residents and businesses.Solid waste disposal costs continue to rise. Landfills require state-of-the-art linings and equipment to assure minimal environmental impact as well as odor and vector control. A new landfill would cost approximately $4 million not considering the operating costs or the cost to maintain the two existing landfills. Located at the headwaters of the Colorado River, Grand County has the added issue of finding a landfill location that wont adversely affect a tributary to the Colorado.Landfills are costly to build, permit and operate and must be maintained 30 years after they are closed. As new waste management technology like plasma burners evolve, the county didnt want to be tied to an old-school landfill for the next 30 years. Grand County presented a plan for a $1.9 million transfer station, a temporary holding facility for trash to be transported to a Front Range landfill. Numerous Colorado mountain towns have transfer stations operated or owned by Waste Management including Estes Park, Idaho Springs, Telluride, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, Divide, Durango and Montrose.What will the Transfer Station look like?Representatives from Grand County Road & Bridge visited transfer stations at Divide and Cherry Creek, both situated within 200 feet of neighboring buildings. The HSS facility will look much like other buildings nearby and will have separate bays for tipping and loading municipal solid waste. The Transfer Station will consist of two buildings located 200 to 300 feet off the highway: a 9,200 square feet municipal solid waste containment building for solid waste, construction waste, single-stream recycling; and a maintenance/office building of about 2,400 square feet. The site will also include a small scale house. A 6-foot privacy fence in selected areas around the perimeter of the site will screen the Transfer Station from the highway. The earth-tone steel buildings will blend with the surroundings. Drop-off bins for recyclables will be provided. Operating hours will be 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. on Saturday.Will tipping fees go up?Tipping fees are unknown at this time. By owning the Transfer Station, the county has more control over cost. Developing a new landfill would increase tipping fees dramatically. Other counties (like Summit) that continue to maintain their own landfills have been raising tipping fees to offset increasing costs. What about odor and litter from trash?Colorado regulations governing the permitting, design and operation of transfer stations requires that, All reasonable measures shall be employed to collect, properly contain, and dispose of scattered litter, including frequent policing of the area, and the use of wind screens where necessary. Regulations require that, Uncompacted wastes will not be allowed on the tipping floor overnight, which minimizes the opportunity for wind-blown litter.Waste Management controls litter by: Placing a 6-foot fence around the perimeter Confining all operations within the building Promptly compacting tipped waste and placing the waste into transfer trailers Routinely policing facility grounds for litterEverything takes place in a covered building to prevent trash from blowing away. Doors on the truck bays will be oriented to face prevailing winds. Tarps cover Waste Management trailers on the way to the Front Range. To comply with state regulations, all loads will be removed from the tipping floor within 24 hours.Will the water supply be affected?The Transfer Station will be permitted for non-hazardous solid waste. Bulk liquids will not be accepted. Liquids associated with household waste get absorbed by other trash during compaction. MSW will be dumped on the tipping floor inside a metal building. The solid waste has no contact with outside water sources so it is not affected by storm water run-off.Will truck traffic increase?Transfer trailers will haul materials to a solid-waste facility in the Denver area. Grand County generates about 100 tons of municipal solid waste a day, which Waste Management can transfer with five semi-trucks per day. Local collection trucks will deliver trash to the Transfer Station. Peak daily vehicles at the site will be 90 to 100 vehicles per day comprised of 20-30 commercial haulers and 40-60 residential and non-commercial loads.What about recycling?Residents and businesses will be able to drop off their recycling materials at the transfer station. Whether there are satellite sites around the county for recycling pick-up depends on each town negotiating an agreement with commercial haulers, and finding locations for bins. The cost for recycling has yet to be determined.Where will Grand County trash be taken?Instead of trucking waste to Granby or Kremmling landfills, local trash haulers will take it to the Transfer Station. All waste and recyclables will be transported out of Grand County. The Granby and Kremmling landfills will be mothballed for the foreseeable future in case of an emergency situation. They can store demolition debris in case of a natural disaster until commercial haulers could transport the debris to the Front Range in a timely manner.Next stepsGrand County plans to have the $1.9 million Transfer Station operational by the end of 2009. Next steps will be to negotiate a final agreement with Waste Management. Waste Managements environmental initiatives have been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Wildlife Habitat Council.How can I offer input?Please do not hesitate to contact the BOCC with any questions or concerns at (970) 725-3347.
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