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Landfill official proposes cash-for-trash plan

August 23, 2012 12:10 am

By CATHY DYSON

Thomas Cue, the director of the King George Landfill, gets about 20 to 30 requests a month for donations.

He presented a novel idea to the King George County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. What if the groups pick up some trash in exchange for the cash?

Board Chairman Cedell Brooks Jr. wanted to make sure he heard right.

"So the only way you're gonna get a donation now is you're gonna have to work on the side of the road?" Brooks asked.

Cue said there will always be groups, such as Wounded Warriors, that he and his bosses would never say no to when they sought donations.

"But if the football team wants new helmets, yeah, let's let them pick up trash," Cue said.

Cue wanted to see what the supervisors thought of his idea, and members let him know this wasn't a decision for them to make. They said they're not responsible for the safety of anyone picking up litter along State Route 3, near the entrance to the landfill.

"But I think what you're proposing is phenomenal," said Supervisor Ruby Brabo, noting that Cue should make sure participants sign waivers and have adult supervision.

Supervisor John LoBuglio also liked the approach.

"I think it's a great way of showing the young people it's better to put in some work and not just be asking for a donation," he said.

Cue said he gets requests from high school groups and dance teams and from those involved in music, academic and sports contests as well as from adult groups.

He's vigilant about keeping the roads around the landfill clear of litter that blows off trucks, so there's always a need for patrols. He said he's not obligated to pick up trash on Route 3, but does anyway.

He will supply helmets, vests, bags and pickers, the devices that can be used to retrieve soda cans, diapers and lottery tickets from the ground. The organizers would have to provide insurance and adult supervision, Cue said.

22 NEW GAS WELLS

Cue also told the supervisors the landfill continues to take measures to control odors caused by hydrogen sulfide.

As workers close down one area and open another, they're installing 22 new gas wells with 6,000 feet of pipe to catch any landfill gases.

The work should be finished in November.

Cue reminded the supervisors that some smells may be unleashed when workers open temporary caps that have sealed in some of the more heinous odors.

Waste Management has spent $12 million in two years on systems to contain the rotten-egg smell at the landfill. The unpleasant aroma came about as a byproduct of decomposing coal ash from a plant in Alexandria. That ash is no longer accepted.

MORE TONS ALLOWED

For the ninth time, King George amended its agreement with the landfill and will allow the facility to take in another 140,000 tons of trash this year, if needed. The county gets $5 for each ton dumped at the landfill, so the extra tonnage equates to $700,000.

Under the agreement between King George and Waste Management, the landfill can accept 1.248 million tons of trash a year.

Activity has picked up in 2012, but for four years before that, the landfill was short of its allowed amount by 386,188 tons, Cue said.

The landfill began operations in 1994 and should last until 2027.

The county gets about $6.4 million in revenue a year from the landfill, and supervisors have talked often about what will replace that stream of money when the landfill closes.

Officials are pinning a lot of their hopes on the King George Industrial Park. Supervisors signed an agreement Tuesday--after several years of discussion--to proceed with plans for Columbia Gas of Virginia to extend its natural gas pipeline from Stafford County into the industrial area.

Engineering costs will be about $200,000. That money already was set aside in the county's capital improvement plan.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
Email: cdyson@freelancestar.com





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