The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Wednesday, April 21, 1993, at 10:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioner's Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: G. Richard Swartz, Jr., Chairman; Catherine Hanson, Vice Chairman; Rhonda H. Gerber; Don Bailey; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: Annette Star Lustgarten, County Attorney; Peter F. Wahl, County Manager; Ava Kronz, BCC Office Manager; James C. Watkins, Clerk; Barbara Lehman, Finance Director; and Sandra Carter, Deputy Clerk.
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT/LANDFILLS/POLLUTION CONTROL
Commr. Swartz, Chairman, opened the meeting stating that Mr. Herbert Flosdorf, P.E., Executive Director of the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, would be giving a presentation about Lancaster County's Reclamation Project, noting that he feels they are doing a lot of good things in solid waste and is very impressed with their whole operation.
Mr. Flosdorf appeared before the Board and gave an overview of Lancaster County's operation, at which time he reviewed slides of pictures and various charts pertaining to their operation. A handout had been distributed, prior to the meeting, containing information which he would be reviewing with the Board, concerning the project.
Mr. Flosdorf stated that the definition of "landfill reclamation" is, "The excavation of materials from a landfill for the purpose of recovering, reusing, or recycling resources, including soils, energy, metals and other valuable materials, and landfill space.", noting that this is the whole reason Lancaster County went into the waste management business. He stated that they started their project in January of 1991, two weeks after they started their waste-to-energy facility operating. He stated that they are currently reclaiming about 3,000 cubic yards per week and plan to reclaim about 700,000 cubic yards by the middle of 1995.
Mr. Flosdorf reviewed the various steps that are taken in a landfill reclamation process, as well as the various equipment and vehicles that are needed. He stated that they sort the non-combustible and oversized materials, such as engine blocks, rolls of carpet, etc. and put them back into the landfill and the rest of the material is put through a trommel, which separates the soil from the refuse. He stated that the soil is then stockpiled and used in their active landfill operation and the reclaimed refuse is taken to the waste-to-energy facility and mixed with wood chips and tire chips to bring its energy value up to match that of the regular waste.
Mr. Flosdorf stated that they burn the material and make electricity, pull the ferrous metals out and market them, and put the ash back into the landfill. He stated that, out of the 3,000 cubic yards they excavate per week, about 224 cubic yards contain material that they do not want to put through the process and another 474 yards is ash which goes back into the landfill, so the net amount of volume that is reclaimed is 2,400 cubic yards, or 78% of what is actually dug out. He stated that, for every 100 yards they reclaim, they create 78 yards of new space that can be reused and for every 1,300 tons of refuse they burn, they generate almost 1,000 tons of soil that is used for cover material.
Mr. Flosdorf then discussed costs involved in running the operation, what Lancaster County profits from it, and principal revenue factors involved in it. He also discussed benefits derived from the project, such as the upgrading of the landfill system, the recovery of resources, the profitability of it, the flexibility to maximize efficiency, extending the life of the landfill, and eliminating problem sites, as well as some negative aspects, such as odor and air emissions at the excavation site, increased traffic, additional wear on the resource recovery facility, mixing and handling at the resource recovery facility, and increased resource recovery residue. He discussed what the reclaimed soil (called trommel "unders") consists of, noting that some leaching tests were done on the reclaimed soil, as well as on the raw soil, and they were found to be very similar. He also discussed air testing results, noting that the tests are done in a couple of different ways.
Commr. Bailey questioned whether there were any negative reactions from the communities in Lancaster County concerning the odor problem that Mr. Flosdorf alluded to, to which he responded that it depended on what was actually being hauled. He stated that the refuse goes through various odor control devices, which he noted helps eliminate some of the problem, and they are obtaining data on various chemicals that may be effective on the different types of waste. He stated that most of the complaints come from the commercial district where there are restaurants, stores, etc. He stated that they have been able to manage it so far, but noted that it is not easy.
Mr. Flosdorf discussed the technical, economic, administrative and regulatory feasibility of doing a landfill reclamation project, as well as a feasibility analysis process, noting that it should be done in two phases - Phase I (Reconnaissance) and Phase II (Pilot Project). He stated that, should the County consider going from a paper study into a full scale operation, he would recommend that a pilot project (on a full scale) be done, for six to eight weeks, whereby equipment would be brought in and the material would be excavated and separated, as there is no way to tell what the County would get from one test pit, one day's operation, or even a week's operation. He stated that the County will need to find out how they are going to separate it and determine its BTU value, which he noted cannot be done from a jar sample. He stated that the County would need to have several hundred tons to burn to actually be able to determine the BTU content and one test is not good enough. He stated that the County should obtain all the data it can.
Concerning the regulatory agencies, Mr. Flosdorf noted that reclaiming a landfill is no different than constructing one - it is the same process, in reverse, so the impacts, regulatory concerns, and environmental issues are identical. He stated that, at the end of the project, when staff reviews the data acquired from it, they can then work with the regulatory people concerning permitting, modifications, etc., if the County chooses to go full scale.
Commr. Swartz noted that county staff personnel were present in the audience, as well as representatives from Post, Buckley, Schuh & Jernigan and Ogden Martin and that they could question Mr. Flosdorf is they so chose.
Commr. Bailey commented about the fact that the Lancaster County landfill is above ground and active, however, the Astatula landfill is mostly underground and covered and the County is not sure exactly what is in it, at which time a brief discussion occurred regarding the comparison.
It was noted that Lancaster County had done test pits on their second landfill, at which time Commr. Hanson requested a copy of said information, noting that it would probably be comparable to what this county found in the test pits that were done at the Astatula landfill.
Mr. Jim Barker, Director of Pollution Control, questioned whether Mr. Flosdorf had an indication of any kind of groundwater contamination existing at their old landfill site, to which he responded that they do, however, they currently have a groundwater interception system around the property.
Commr. Bailey questioned the age of the Lancaster County landfill, noting that he was curious about the difference in age between their landfill and the Astatula landfill, to which Mr. Flosdorf responded that, on the back side of the landfill, where they are going to start digging, it is approximately 25 years old, however, the front portion is approximately 10 to 15 years old.
A brief discussion occurred regarding the Collier County landfill and its contents, at which time Mr. Flosdorf stated that the contents of the Astatula landfill is probably comparable to that of Collier County's.
Discussion continued, at which time Mr. Flosdorf stated that the only way Lake County is going to know whether reclaiming the Astatula landfill is going to be feasible for the County is to go in for 6 to 8 weeks and actually do it. He stated that the reasoning behind reclaiming a landfill is not always economics, sometimes it is philosophy, noting that, even though it may be cheaper for Lancaster County to leave some landfills as they are, rather than reclaim them, they do not want to leave the problems associated with the landfills behind, for others to deal with, therefore, if they can afford to deal with them today, they will.
Commr. Cadwell questioned whether the Solid Waste Management Authority, that Mr. Flosdorf is Executive Director of, is a taxing authority, to which Mr. Flosdorf responded that it is not, that it is purely a single purpose authority, which is to run a municipal solid waste management system. He stated that not one tax dollar is used in the whole system - it is all user fees. He stated that they only service Lancaster County - they do not bring any waste into the County or export any waste out of the County and that it is a volume base system, whereby the one who generates the most waste pays the most, however, the system works quite well. He noted that their tipping fee, for refuse, is $69 per ton. He stated that he did not feel the tipping fees were a fair comparison to the economics of the system, noting that they measure theirs by consumer costs. He stated that they have the highest tipping fees in the State of Pennsylvania, with the lowest consumer costs, noting that the average homeowner pays $130 per year to have garbage and recyclables picked up once a week, plus special collections of bulky waste, such as mattresses, refrigerators, etc., four times per year. He stated that they have pickups of grass clippings and leaves, as well.
Upon being questioned as to whether Lancaster County owns their solid waste collection system, Mr. Flosdorf replied that it is privately owned. He stated that they do franchise and that most of the municipalities, of which there are 60, bid once a year to hire a hauler for their particular area. He noted, however, that they do not have exclusive franchising for the haulers, at the present time, in the unincorporated areas of the County.
Mr. Flosdorf stated that Lancaster County's goal is to have an inorganic landfill, noting that risks involved with landfills is almost totally related to organics - organics decomposing and making gases or organics decomposing and getting into leachate and groundwater, therefore, all the wood that is in their wastestream is shredded up. The clean wood (trees, branches, limbs, etc.) is then set aside for mulch and given to the Parks Department and the contaminated wood (railroad ties, telephone poles, pallets, etc.) is mixed with landfill waste and made into fuel for the waste-to-energy facility. He stated that tires are pulled out of the waste stream and sent to a chipper, where the majority of them get recycled in the towns. The rest (5% maximum) get used as a supplemental fuel for the waste-to-energy facility.
Commr. Bailey questioned whether there were any environmental problems created from the tire chips being burned in the waste-to-energy facility, to which Mr. Flosdorf responded that the only problem they encountered was internal maintenance, caused from the residue gumming up their scrubber system. However, once they reduced the amount of chips being burned to under 5%, it solved the problem. He stated that they have not had any air emissions problems, at all, from the tire chips.
Ms. Barbara Lehman, Finance Director, questioned the cost of the trommel, alluded to earlier, and what its life expectancy is, to which Mr. Flosdorf replied that, with conveyors, etc., the
total cost of the trommel was $180,000, however, said cost was written off in two years. He stated that they had tried various machines before settling for the trommel, noting that they feel its system is the best. He stated that they designed their trommel, with the help of a local company.
Commr. Gerber questioned whether Mr. Kyle Garrett, with Ogden Martin, who was present in the audience, felt that what Lancaster County is doing would be considered favorable, to which he responded that he could only speak for Lancaster County. He stated that it was fairly predictable what their landfill contained and that their reclamation project is successful, however, he could not comment on what will happen with Lake County's landfill.
Mr. Dan Eastwood, a member of the Lake County Ad Hoc Refinancing Advisory Committee, stated (from the audience) that, in looking at the numbers Mr. Flosdorf reviewed, Lancaster County seems to be running about 43% ash and questioned what the ash ratio would be without the reclamation, to which Mr. Flosdorf responded that it would be approximately 25% to 27%, noting that it varies.
Mr. Eastwood then questioned what the actual cost would be in the $69 per ton tipping fee, alluded to earlier, when one factors in 43% ash, noting that one would think the overall cost to burn is going to go up, because a lot more dirt is being run through the grate, to which Commr. Swartz responded that the cost to burn is pretty much capped and in place.
Mr. Flosdorf stated that one can break down the cost to burn in a couple of different ways. He stated that Lancaster County bought its facility and that they spend approximately $15 million a year in debt service. He stated that, as far as operating the facility is concerned, most of the costs are fixed, noting that they pay Ogden Martin a fixed fee (no matter how much is burned) as well as their staff. He stated that the only variables, whether they burn 900 or 1,200 tons per day, are the consumables, so the burning costs are not factored to how much ash is in the material or to how much material is burned.
Mr. Ron Roche, Solid Waste Management Division Director, stated he would assume that Ogden Martin has not yet signed an agreement with Lancaster County to accept waste from the new landfill that they are about to start reclaiming, as it may contain contaminated materials, however, Mr. Flosdorf responded that Ogden Martin has taken whatever Lancaster County has sent to them. He stated that they have not encountered a situation, yet, where Ogden Martin saw something they felt was unacceptable and Lancaster County called it acceptable. He stated that they have a fair analysis of the waste and have always been able to agree whether it was acceptable or unacceptable, noting that it is always inspected (visually) when it goes through the trommel.
Mr. Roche stated that, due to the fact that Lancaster County does not do chemical inspections on the waste going to the waste-to-energy facility, they really do not know exactly what waste Ogden Martin is going to get from the landfill. He stated that a drum could break onto the waste material, be pulled through the trommel and delivered to the waste-to-energy facility, creating a hazardous waste situation.
Mr. Flosdorf stated that they look at separating good science from regulatory policy, noting that the drum Mr. Roche alluded to is going to contain either organics or metals. He stated that, if it is metals, it is going to end up in the ash and put back into the landfill and the temperature that the facility operates at will destroy the organics, so, from an operating point of view, there is almost nothing in the waste that they would be concerned about.
Discussion continued, at which time Commr. Bailey stated that it seems Lancaster County does not do anything prior to burning, they burn and then ask questions later, to which Mr. Flosdorf stated that they have acquired a lot of data from currently operating waste-to-energy facilities throughout the country, hazardous and non-hazardous waste facilities, that have been operating since 1968, so there are concerns, but, one has to look at the long-term risks associated with it. He stated they are confident that, with their constant monitoring and operating systems, they can correct a problem before it affects anything. He stated that it is very hard to predict risks, however, most of the risks they undertake have to do with processing and recovering reasonable recyclable materials, which he noted is the future, so someone has to take that risk. He stated that, so far, they have not regretted any of the risks they have taken. He noted that they are trying to find a way that makes sense both economically and environmentally, but, the two do not go hand in hand, in fact, the most environmentally safe way is typically the most expensive way. Commr. Swartz stated that the concern evolves around the types of unknowns that will be found in the old landfills, noting that there may be some that will need a permanent cap put on them.
Mr. Flosdorf briefly discussed a scope of work that Lancaster County is putting together with a Department of Energy group called the National Renewable Energies Lab, involving some experimental work dealing with excavation, reclamation and BTU tests. He stated that they are very interested in the potential future of renewable energy resources existing in the landfills in this country, noting that there is a lot of interest in potential landfills as energy resources.
At 12:00 Noon, Commr. Hanson left the meeting, due to another commitment.
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT/LANDFILLS/POLLUTION CONTROL (CONT'D.)
Mr. Joe Woodnick, a member of the Lake County Solid Waste Study Committee, questioned (from the audience) what it costs, under their present scenario of refuse to revenue, for Lancaster County to dispose of its ash and questioned how they handle their transfer station for the depositing of household waste, to which Mr. Flosdorf responded, stating that, concerning the question about the ash, they charge it off as a direct cost and concerning the question about the transfer station, stated that it is a very large manned site, where all the materials come in - recyclables, yard waste and trash, and is then sorted and sent to the landfill, the incinerator, or the recycling plant. He stated that the transfer station handles approximately 450 trucks per day, which he noted are almost all commercial haulers. He stated that they allow the public in, but discourage it with a high entry fee. He stated that they would rather have the homeowner hire a professional hauler to handle their waste and then let the county deal with the hauler.
Discussion continued, at which time the Board thanked Mr. Flosdorf for his presentation.
Commr. Swartz referred to two letters that had been distributed to the Board, prior to the meeting, from the Department of Environmental Regulation (DER), noting that, if the County decides they want to pursue the matter of landfill mining any further, that DER has indicated a willingness to amend the Consent Order, to give the County 60 days to submit their permit for closure. He stated that one of the things the County has not done is an economic analysis and he did not see how the County could make a decision to go forward, until it has done that. He stated that, if the County reduces the landfill by approximately 80 acres, it could impact significantly the cost of closure and, if the County is going to consider landfill reclamation, now is the time to do it.
Mr. Pete Wahl, County Manager, stated that staff needs direction from the Board, regarding the matter, and that the driving force behind the necessity for the Board to give them direction, as soon as possible, is the fact that the County is under an obligation from the Consent Order for a September 12, 1993 permit submittal and, if the County is going to do other than that, they need not delay that decision.
Commr. Swartz stated that the only decision the Board has to make is whether or not they want to proceed to amend the Consent Order, to allow the County more time. He stated that whether the County even considers landfill mining is not going to hurt the situation and will allow the County to have a little more time to permit and begin closure at the landfill.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he does not like the risks involved with landfill mining and is not committed to it; however, if the Board wants to spend more money to look into the economics of it, he would go along with that.
Commr. Swartz referred to the second letter from DER stating that it indicates a willingness to proceed with a much less expensive form of intermediate closure, if the County is going to do landfill mining, as opposed to a more expensive permanent closure, if it is not.
Commr. Bailey stated that he does not have the comfort level that Mr. Flosdorf has about landfill mining and would like some recommendations from staff, as well as some comparisons between the Lancaster County landfill and the Astatula landfill
A motion was made by Commr. Gerber and seconded by Commr. Bailey to instruct staff to work with DER, to amend the Consent Order, to allow the County 60 days to meet the closure date and determine whether or not it wants to do a pilot project at the Astatula landfill.
Under discussion, Commr. Bailey stated that he shares Commr. Cadwell's concerns, but is willing to consider a pilot project, through the extension period. He reiterated the fact that he would like some feedback from staff, regarding the matter, and would like to know the costs involved.
Mr. Wahl, County Manager, interjected that staff could put said figures together, for the Board, in a relatively short period of time.
Commr. Swartz stated that he, too, is sensitive to the concerns expressed by Commrs. Bailey and Cadwell, however, feels that now is the time to make the decision regarding the matter. He stated that, if the data indicates that landfill reclamation appears to have no real economic advantage to the County, then the County will not do it.
Commr. Gerber stated her motion would include that staff develop some economic evaluations and come back to the Board with a proposal and costs, to consider a pilot project.
The Chairman called for a vote on the motion, which was carried.
Commr. Cadwell voted "No".
Commr. Hanson was not present for the discussion or vote.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:20 p.m.
G. RICHARD SWARTZ, JR., CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK