How does mining the balefill add available landfill capacity?
Waste in the balefill has been in place for many years and some degree of decomposition has taken place. We know this because we are watching methane gas levels, a byproduct of decomposition, decrease over time. Mining the balefill allows us to recover soil and compost materials through screening that can be recycled as daily cover for our current landfill operations. Daily cover reduces odors from waste. Further study is needed to determine how much material can be recovered and what rate this material can be screened and processed. The plan is to continuously mine the balefill simultaneously as we construct new landfill cells. The first cell will be constructed in a buffer between the lined landfill and the unlined balefill. The next cells would be constructed in the balefill area once waste has been removed. Recovered soil material that cannot be reused as daily cover will be disposed of in the lined landfill. This soil and the mined waste will consume disposal capacity in the lined landfill. We are planning to construct and operate a transfer station to divert some waste for disposal outside the county in order to accommodate the initial balefill mining and disposal of county waste, as there is not enough capacity to do both at the same time.
If the landfill has seven more years of capacity, why does the County need to start this process now?
The Ann Street Landfill, the primary landfill for Cumberland County and Fayetteville residents, is quickly running out of room. The landfill, which has operated at the Ann Street site since 1980, will reach capacity in just seven years. Because landfill permitting and construction can take several years, the county must plan now for waste disposal beyond 2030. If we wait any longer, there is a real chance that we would have nowhere for Cumberland County garbage to go. Additionally, the expansion into the balefill area will require a controlled process to excavate and relocate cover soil and waste that will take many years to develop enough cleaned area for a lined disposal cell construction.
What are the potential impacts of this project to the community?
The County has completed a Preliminary Environmental Justice Report that reviewed the impacts of the proposed project on the surrounding community. The proposed project will primarily just permit the continuation of existing landfill operations at the site. Most neighbors will not notice any difference with this project. The transfer station operation would have a slight increase (less than 30/day) in truck traffic on Ann Street for the transport of waste materials for disposal out of County. Truck traffic would enter and exit the site from Grove Street and would not pass through any residential areas.
What other options were explored?
The County has been studying options for additional landfill space for over three years. Options such as engineered retaining walls, piggybacking over the existing balefill, and increasing landfill slopes have been explored. Alternate disposal methods such as waste to energy, waste reduction strategies, food waste diversion and effort to increase recycling and reduced wastes were explored. These alternative strategies are either not economical to implement at this time or would not avoid the need for additional disposal capacity. Our engineering firm searched the county for sites that might support a new landfill. There were no sites in Cumberland County that could meet the strict criteria – both regulatory and environmental – for locating a landfill. Ann Street is our only viable option.
The county is also pursuing expansion of the Ann Street Landfill to the north onto an abandoned landfill called Milan Yards, which is owned by the City of Fayetteville. By expanding to the north in addition to the west over the balefill, the county could extend the life of the Ann Street Landfill by another 20 years at a much lower cost than transporting trash off site. Negotiations between the city and county over the acquisition of Milan Yards are ongoing
Were there any solutions that provided more years of capacity at the landfill than the one selected?
The County believes the most ideal solution for the Ann Street Landfill’s future would be to acquire Milan Yard, a City-owned property located adjacent to the Ann Street Landfill, that would allow for an expansion of the landfill’s footprint and would provide more than 50 years of waste disposal capacity. However, the County has been unable to reach an agreement with the City to acquire this property, though discussions are ongoing.
What is the cost of this project and how will it impact user fees?
The County does not have firm numbers at this point. We are bidding the transfer station construction and out of county disposal work now and expect to have a better idea of the cost to taxpayers by budget time later this spring. But building a transfer station and shipping our waste to another community will cost significantly more. We will be paying to build a transfer station, paying truckers to haul the garbage long distances and paying a landfill in another community tipping fees to accept our garbage. All of these are expenses that we do not have now.
What is the timeline for this project?
The county expects to have the transfer station up and running by July 1, 2024. The county will use the transfer station to ease the burden on the current landfill while the county permits and constructs the landfill expansion to the west. Permitting and construction of first cell is expected to take about five years.
Once the first section of the westward expansion is ready, the county anticipates gradually decreasing use of the transfer station while increasing use of the expansion area. This will save taxpayers the much higher cost of transferring county garbage by truck to another community. The westward expansion should add 20 years to the life of the landfill.
Why is the best short-term solution a transfer station?
This option is the most practicable short-term solution and after a thorough study of potential locations, Ann Street was selected due to the existing infrastructure, proximity to the city, and ability to permit it at the existing site. This would serve as an effective short-term solution to divert some waste from the landfill disposal in order to later implement the expansion of the landfill. Long term, having the transfer station will give the county redundancy in its operations, which will provide flexibility in the case of emergencies such as a natural disaster.
Why expand the current landfill?
After initial studies, engineers have concluded that expanding the landfill at its current site is the best solution to serve the long-term needs of city and county residents. This option would provide a disposal facility for at least the next 20 years, utilize the existing reliable infrastructure, continue to provide environmental benefits, and result in significant cost-savings.
How will surrounding communities and businesses be involved in this process?
Cumberland County is dedicated to working with the community to identify fair and achievable strategies to reduce potential impacts on the surrounding community. As plans are developed, Cumberland County will work to understand and address community concerns. These concerns could be addressed by improving access, adding aesthetic buffers, adjusting operations, and more!
How would the process work for remediating the old landfills?
The existing balefill was initially constructed and operated before today’s regulations for liners and proper landfill management. Modern landfills include bottom liners that serve as a barrier and facilitate collection of any liquid or precipitation that contact the waste materials with a leachate collection piping system and pumps.
Expanding the landfill will provide the opportunity to excavate the older landfill waste, relocate it to the regulated lined landfill. We do not anticipate that odor would be generated during this process, but if that occurs, we are prepared to neutralize potential odors.
Would a future expanded landfill be more visible to surrounding neighbors?
As part of the preliminary design work, the County would complete a study of its visible footprint. Once waste is buried in the lined landfill and reaches final grade, the waste-filled “slopes” are covered with dirt that is seeded for grass and vegetation to grow. A final cover system would be established that includes a liner, drainage material and vegetated cover, once a large enough area is established. The County could assess other additional planting treatment on the slopes if this is desired by the community and acceptable to state regulators.
Would future expansion and additional waste cause a noticeable increase in odor?
The key to odor control is to properly maintain the landfill cover soils and proactively expand the landfill gas collection system. Cumberland County currently follows effective odor-control practices, and the landfill expansion is not anticipated to result in a significant increase in the amount of daily waste, so the existing odor-control practices would still be effective.
Are additional studies anticipated for the long-term expansion solution?
Yes, a feasibility analysis is required to determine if landfill expansion is practical and what the costs for implementation would be. This expansion would be a westward expansion into the existing unlined balefill area and is anticipated to provide 20 years of additional capacity. In this scenario, it would require diverting some of the waste received for disposal in order to provide capacity for balefill waste disposal.