County Weighs The Cost Of A Rubble Dump Of Its Own

October 27, 1991|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

Should the county get into the business of running its own dump for rubble and other construction debris?

Private firms have the market now, but the county plans to hire a consultant to study the prospect.

The decision to operate a rubble fill, which would most likely bebuilt at the Scarboro Landfill site near Dublin, will depend on cost, say county administrators.

Larry Klimovitz, director of administration, said the study will be paid for with state money. Cost will not be determined until all bids are in, he said.

Four firms will submit bids for the contract, and a selection will be made in the nexttwo months, Klimovitz said.

Cost is one of the main reasons the county has stayed out of the garbage business and left refuse pick-up to private haulers, and rubble fill operations to private companies.

The only two state-licensed rubble fills in Harford -- Pappy's Inc. in Joppa and Spencer's Sand & Gravel Inc. in Abingdon -- are privately owned and operated.

Frederick County, which received a state operating permit this spring, is the only county so far to decide to run its open rubble fill, said John Goheen, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment. But Kent and Somerset counties have recently requested permission to operate their own rubble fills, said Goheen.

Goheen could not estimate the cost of running a rubble fillbut said it would be less expensive than running a landfill because a lining and repositories for leachate, or runoff pollutants, would not be necessary.

William Geary, a spokesman for Spencer's Sand & Gravel Inc., which operates an Abingdon rubble fill, said he doesn't think the county has the money to operate a rubble fill.

"Our fuel bill alone is $18,000 a month," said Geary. "Then there's the payrollfor 13 employees, liability insurance, Workman's Comp, purchase of equipment, tags for vehicles, inventory taxes, equipment maintenance, maintenance of site and the quarterly monitoring of test wells to seeif leachate is polluting the ground. It's an expensive business."

Geary said daily operating costs range from $12,000 to $15,000, or $4.4 million a year. He said he did not know how much Spencer's made last year.

"People don't realize how much equipment's involved. That's why we always ask government people to come down and look at the operation," said Geary. "One piece of machinery can easily cost$350,000."

It costs about $12,000 a month to lease a concrete crusher, which separates reinforced metal and steel from concrete slabs or roaddebris and crushes the concrete, Geary said.

Records show county administrators and County Council members began discussing privately the creation of a rubble fill in July, about two months before the idea became public.

In a July 19 memo notifying the six other CountyCouncil members that the county planned to call for bids to study the Scarboro Landfill as a potential rubble fill site, Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson wrote: "But the Administration feels, and I agree, . . . , we might as well assume control of the landfilling facilities as well, and the idea of a county-run rubble fill is in this direction. This is clearly a sensitive issue and you will understand the request (from the administration) for confidentiality."

"Everythingto do with rubble fills has created a lot of controversy," said Klimovitz.

The county's decision to consider its own rubble fill became public Sept. 3.

That's when a group of Dublin residents who livenear the landfill came to a council meeting to discuss pollution andlack of notification about activities at the landfill, where some cells are being closed. The residents also questioned a published call for bids for a study of Scarboro as a rubble fill site.

Klimovitz said this is not the first time the county has attempted to study theuse of land at the Scarboro landfill for a rubble fill. Money for a study was included along with money for other projects related to theScarboro landfill in the fiscal 1990 budget year, which ended July 1, 1990, said Klimovitz. But that study was not done, he said.

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