• ALL THAT GLIT TERS ISN’T GOLD
    “...Most of the time, it’s only to help themselves. They are money-driven...” Gary Easter, Landfill Supervisor

ALL THAT GLIT TERS ISN’T GOLD

County officials warned against privatizing dump

BOARD HEARS FROM LANDFILL SUPERVISOR

Nottoway County should be very careful if it ever considers selling its landfill to a private company.

That was the message Thursday night from Gary Easter, Nottoway County’s Landfill Supervisor who made a 20-minute presentation to Supervisors.

“They will come in, tell you what they can do for you, like they’re coming in to help you. But most of the time, it’s only to help themselves. They’re money-driven because it does cost to run a landfill. Their goal is to make money.”

Easter worked at private landfills in Chesterfield, Lawrenceville, Richmond, and Petersburg before taking the Nottoway job. “I’ve seen private companies come in, make all kinds of agreements, saying they’ll help you...but once they get in, it’s all about the money. They’re not trying to work with you.”

Easter said Nottoway likely wouldn’t be able to limit how much trash a company could accept at the dump, “and once they get here, they’ll want to bring-in a lot of special waste.”

That special waste -- contaminated soil, coal ash, and sludge -- is hazardous but profitable because many facilities won’t accept it, and it requires less space. “Those things aren’t good for the County -- they create odor and airborne-contaminated dust.”

Such waste also creates stronger leachate (wastewater and rainwater) for the County to treat, and many sewer treatment plants won’t accept it, he said.

Easter also warned that if a private company were to acquire Nottoway’s facility, it would likely seek a permit to operate or “piggy back” on top of the County’s old 35-acre dump that’s closed. “They’ll go over top of your old landfill and start building up.” And if groundwater monitoring shows contamination near the old dump, the private company will blame the County.

Nottoway County currently has about 3.5 acres, or 10 years, of permitted space remaining. The County also owns 86.5 acres behind its current facility -- land that was purchased several years ago.

Easter said he’s not opposed to recycling, but he said there are many obstacles. First, he said all but one of Nottoway’s current dumpster sites aren’t large enough to handle additional containers for recyclables. Placing more containers would restrict ingress and egress at those sites, he said.

Easter also said that if non-recyclables are placed in recycling containers, companies will stop accepting the containers due to costs of increased sorting.

Cardboard boxes from Amazon, for example, are recyclable, Easter explained, but not cardboard boxes with shiny gloss finish. Plastic bottles are recyclable, but not plastic laundry detergent bottles. “It’s a strict line that you have to follow.”

Easter has worked at several landfills over the past 31 years, but Nottoway is his first government-run operation. “This landfill is NOT intended to make money. It’s a County-run landfill. It is sustained by the County’s tax money. Getting this landfill ‘in the black’ is probably not going to ever happen.”

Supervisor Sherman Vaughn, who has been outspoken in his opposition to selling the landfill, reiterated his position. “I consider the landfill and trash one of the core services that the County does for its citizens. That’s why we have the landfill.”

Easter said he’s willing to talk to landfill consultants Draper Aden and the state Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to see if there are safe ways to increase revenue beside raising fees.

Easter also reminded Supervisors, “Right now, we have about 3.5 acres that will last 10 years. So this bridge will have to be crossed again in the near future.”

Easter’s presentation was briefly interrupted by Supervisor John Roark, who made a dramatic entrance into the courtroom 40 minutes late on crutches and full leg brace. Roark, a plumber, earlier in the day blew-out his right knee at a job site in Amelia County and was sent to a hospital, where doctors said surgery will be required. Roark had told officials he wouldn’t make the meeting, but he did and was outspoken on several issues (See Stories).

But Roark, who has called for solid waste study for the County to learn its options -- including selling the dump -- didn’t address Easter’s presentation, most of which he missed due to his injury.

Blackstone Courier Record

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