Ike Heinz: Ukiah Landfill biggest air-polluter. Do we want more of it?


A new attempt to rethink Ukiah’s waste stream

In reference to the Ukiah Daily Journal article 3/26 (see article below), the city staff is taking the first steps towards a disaster in planning to open this site again. The Landfill at the present condition has no space to deposit more garbage. Toxic landfill gas is emanating constantly unused into the air with no installation to flare off the gas. 300 cubic feet of landfill gas per minute and neighbors protest.

The State Waste board and water board are not aware of any new applications for reopening the site and outstanding requests are still pending.

All of our good counsel from the Landfill Gas Task Force has fallen so far on blocked ears. This issue was presented to the city council in one form or another since 2001. We produced a feasibility report stating usable gas till 2023. We made a DVD film of Sonoma County’s Central Landfill with city staff visiting this 10 megawatt electric power production site, operating since 1993. Additional gas is used as CNG, fuelling  36 County busses.

In January 2010 we submitted a proposal to the Ukiah City Council and the County sanitation board in regards to available technology, to make use of waste water bio-solids with gasification. Landfill gas could be added at the same time and the proposal received no response.

We are recommending a different approach to the waste stream cost. Neglect to sort will cost you more!

Promote Reduce – Reuse – Recycle.

Reducing the garbage allows the hauler to pick up every other week and save cost.

Reusing materials for a second and third life, add a share-section to the transfer station.

Recycling is great business when it gets help from city – county, and public understanding.

After the waste stream has been redirected to the appropriate channels, the rest of the waste, free from organic pollutants and now quality commingle, is now much reduced “when all recyclables are out”. Then, it can be compacted and container shipped. It has become a new commodity, to be sold on the world market, to be melted down and mixed – back into new materials.

City considering reopening Ukiah landfill

By TIFFANY REVELLE The Daily Journal

Some call it “solid waste,” but to put it plainly, the city of Ukiah is talking trash.

The City Council last week took the first steps toward opening up its long-unused landfill in an effort to stabilize garbage collection rates.

“We’re exploring it,” said City Manager Jane Chambers. “We wanted to let the public know that we’re going to use that resource, because we know there’s a lot of concern about it.”

The city dump, located at the end of Vichy Springs Road, hasn’t been used since it was believed to be at capacity about a decade ago, when the city stopped accepting waste at the site.

“That happened under the standards of that time, and the standards and the technology have changed,” Chambers said.

Now, Chambers said there may be reason to think the landfill could accept the entire Ukiah Valley’s solid waste stream for the next 20 years.

“We could extend the life of the landfill past the initial life it was thought to have by 20 years, by new means of filling up the remaining capacity,” Chambers said. “It’s very important for the future of the community in terms of our ability to stabilize the prices and handle trash in an environmentally friendly manner; it would lower the city’s carbon footprint by taking all those trucks off the road.”

It could be that it’s easiest and cheapest to let the company that handles the valley’s trash use the Ukiah landfill, making one piece of the price ratepayers pay a known quantity, according to Chambers.

“We know that it removes the uncertainty,” she said.

That and other aspects of the idea are what the city is now exploring with its contractor.

The council approved a proposal from Chambers and Director of Public Works Tim Eriksen to “investigate and enter into negotiations to draft an amendment or new agreement with C&S Waste Solutions for use of the landfill.”

C&S Waste owns two companies responsible for handling Ukiah’s trash. Ukiah Waste Solutions collects curbside waste and takes it to the transfer station on Taylor Drive, where Solid Waste Solutions sorts it and takes it where it needs to go.

Recyclables go to a Ukiah recycling plant where they are sorted, bailed and shipped to buyers.

What needs to go into a landfill is taken to the Potrero Hills landfill in Solano County. The fee SWS pays to use the landfill, called a tipping fee, in part drives the tipping fee SWS charges to use the transfer station, which in turn is one of two factors that affect the rate customers pay for curbside garbage collection.

The Potrero Hills tipping fee is the largest variable part of the tipping fee SWS charges, according to Chambers, and the biggest cause for concern as the city and its trash hauler undergo a rate review.

“There is very serious uncertainty around the Potrero Hills landfill – about whether the prices will be raised substantially or whether it may not be open,” Chambers said.

SWS – which operates the transfer station where the trash goes for sorting – has a three-year contract to use the Potrero Hills landfill. It expires at the end of 2011.

“If we don’t have a guaranteed rate, we don’t know what our costs are going to be,” C & S Waste Solutions Recycling Manager Julie Price said.

The city landfill was never capped, the state’s formal process of closing a dump site. Chambers said money was put aside for that expensive process, but it may not be enough.

While the city hasn’t yet heard any feedback from the public about the idea, Chambers said neighbors usually raise issues, and there is a rising concern statewide as landfills fill up.

To proceed, a series of state permits are needed, along with a California Environmental Quality Act review, Chambers said.

Tiffany Revelle can be reached at udjtr@pacific.net, or at 468-3523.