City ponders fate of rapidly shrinking landfill

November 29, 2012 10:08:51 AM

Jeff Clark - [email protected]


The City of Columbus will soon have to a face decision regarding the dumping of waste in its landfill. A recent study by Neel-Schaffer Engineering shows the landfill will run out of space within three years. 


During the Nov. 20 council meeting, Neel-Schaffer project manager Steve Cockerham explained the process to the members of the council. 


"The landfill takes about 37,000 tons of waste (per year)," Cockerham said. "The waste that goes in is stumps and other vegetation. Sixty percent of the waste comes from local industries. You have about three years left on the landfill." 


Cockerham told the council members they had three options regarding the shrinking facility. 


"You can expand the existing facility, close the facility and open a new one, or close the facility and get out of the rubbish-dumping business altogether," Cockerham said. "We recommend the city look at expanding the current facility, which would cost about $524,000 in construction and fees." 


A committee consisting of mayor Robert Smith, chief operations officer David Armstrong, Ward 1 councilman Gene Taylor, Ward 2 councilman Joseph Mickens and Ward 5 councilman Kabir Karriem was formed to explore the recommendations and to seek additional information from other engineering firms. 


"We're running out of time," Armstrong said Thursday morning. "It's always a terminal situation. We are permitted through MDEQ through 2016. When we started talking about this last year, we knew our permit would be running out soon. We asked Neel-Schaffer to do a study and present their finding and they did. The committee has met but we have not made any initial decisions. We are keeping our options open." 


The options Armstrong mentioned may extend to exploring other engineering firms, Karriem said. 


"One of the things we are looking at as a committee is trying to get input and recommendations from other engineering firms," Karriem said. "We want to look at all of our options for this project and see if another engineering firm could do it better or cheaper." 


Armstrong said the landfill, located off South Lehmberg Road in East Columbus, is a 16-acre cell and that about five acres is currently being used. 


Public Works Director Mike Pratt, whose department oversees the landfill, did not return phone messages.