DNR To Hear MarOco Complaints Nov. 14, 15
Allegations of rule violations by MarOco Landfill and the DNR will be heard by a DNR Administrative Code Examiner in Green Bay on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 14 and 15. The hearing is scheduled in response to a petition filed in July of 2011, signed by 30 persons who authorized Charlie and Colleen DeSmidt, owners of neighboring DeSmidts Golf Course, to appear on their behalf.
MarOco Landfill Administrator John LeFebvre told the joint Marinette/Oconto County landfill governing committee at their regular monthly meeting on Friday, Oct. 19 that the DNR hearing basically will address the petition allegations that MarOco operations violated some DNR rules, and DNR personnel failed to take enforcement action.
The DNR hearing entails no money judgments and is separate from lawsuits in which the DeSmidts allege financial damage to themselves and their golf course and real estate development that adjoin the landfill property. However, LeFebvre felt that the hearing examiners decision will almost certainly have an impact on the outcome of the related civil suits. He will be at the hearing, along with the landfill operator and an expert witness on behalf of the county. He does not expect committee members to be subpoenaed.
The petition filed in July of 2011 alleges eleven ways that Mar-Oco Landfill failed to comply with administrative rules and/or provisions of their plan of operation.
They were: failure to apply daily cover six inches thick or more, at the end of each operating day, failure to cover odorous wastes immediately after disposal, failure to maintain gas vents, leachate risers and manholes in proper operative condition so as to minimize and/or eliminate odors from the landfill; failure to confine wind blown material to the active disposal area; failure to collect and properly dispose of windblown material on a daily basis; failure to apply a one foot layer of soils over areas not receiving waste for a period of six months or more; failure to properly operate or maintain a landfill extraction system to prevent methane and other landfill gasses from escaping in high quantities through the landfill final cover; failure to minimize fugitive landfill gas emissions; failure to properly operate landfill so as to minimize and reduce odors from the landfill (noxious odors are frequently detected); failure to design and/or maintain landfill to meet a method of controlling any dust or windblown debris, and, finally, failure to provide adequate means of screening landfill from the surrounding area.
This is a complaint that the DNR isnt enforcing their own rules, LeFebvre told the committee. We and they need to convince the hearing examiner the rules were followed. There will be no money penalties involved, LeFebvre said. The hearing examiner will decide if the complaint is valid or invalid, and if there is anything we need to correct or not.
The report on the DNR hearing came in response to a question raised by Supervisor Joe Policello of Middle Inlet at the end of regular business or the meeting.
Earlier in the meeting, LeFebvre reported the new compactor was delivered on Tuesday, Oct. 16, and was put into use the next day. The new machine arrived in the nick of time, he said, because someone had just vandalized the old one. It was struck twice by shots from a high powered hand gun, which may or may not have been accidental. One shot went through the windshield, the other nicked the paint. A complaint was filed and officers are investigating.
LeFebvre noted that maintenance costs should go down with arrival of the new machine. The old one required frequent service, at $900 per call before any work was done. Some machines, like loaders, can be borrowed from the highway department in case of emergency, but no one has a spare compactor, LeFebvre commented. Switching the wheels from the old machine to the new one went well and saved the landfill a great deal of money.
Capping off of the old cell, the one closest to the DeSmidt property, is all but complete, LeFebvre said. The few items left to complete are cleaning out a culvert and finishing repairs to a manhole for the leachate tank. Grass is growing well on the capped cell, and despite two inches of rain the previous weekend, there was no erosion, so thats a good thing.
Peters Concrete did the earth work and put on the caps, with sub contractors for drilling test wells and installing the plastic cap. Everything is paid now except for $15,000 held back for final details.
At their next meeting, which was scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 30, the committee plans to consider proposals for a new leachate hauling contract.
LeFebvre said there will probably be less leachate to haul because much of the old landfill is now capped, and they may be able to cut the amount even farther by doing more leachate recirculating, which has been reduced in the last few years due to the odor issues. Now, with the old cell capped and the new wells in place, that shouldnt be a problem, he said.
To alleviate a problem with dust on the MarOco access road, Marinette County Highway Department ground some used asphalt that had been stockpiled at the Crivitz shop and applied it to the road, and it seems to be working very well, leFebvre reported.
All accounts look really good, LeFebvre reported. Leachate hauling and disposal costs have been down this year so far because of the dry summer. Use of the landfill remains strong. The number of loads is up and tonnage is up, and income is up, largely due to last years tipping fee increase. They have about $400,000 less in the bank than last year at this time, which is not surprising considering purchase of the new compactor and spending $400,000 to develop a new cell.
Interest income on investments remains very poor, hampered in part by some state rules that allow counties to invest funds for no more than three years at a time.
After considerable discussion the committee agreed to offer to accept sediment from storm sewer cleanouts in Iron Mountain/Kingsford, Mich. for a fee of $30 per ton, a $17 per ton savings from the normal tipping fee, provided the material passes DNR approval for use as daily cover. Iron Mountain/Kingsford have agreed to pay the $1,000 fee to the DNR for verifying the sludge for use as daily cover. It will be tested annually at their expense. The cities currently have a 10-year stockpile of sludge to dispose of, but hauling in future will probably be about 250 yards per year.
LeFebvre passed around a bag of the dried sediment, which basically looks, feels and smells like sand. LeFebvre described the proposed agreement as a win/win because the two Michigan cities will save money on hauling and tipping fees, and MarOco will make money from accepting the material and using it in place of the daily cover they would have to apply anyway, so they use no additional landfill space. He said also that the sediment weighs about twice as much per cubic foot as other refuse.
The committee voted unanimously in favor of offering a three year contract, subject to corporation counsels approval of contract terms.
Recent stories, opinions and photos