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DANC opens last cells at Rodman landfill

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RODMAN — At 10:40 a.m. Tuesday, there were only a few pieces of cardboard and an orange and black soccer ball touching the top of the double composite liner system at the lower half of cell 10 at the Development Authority of the North Country solid waste management facility.

A worker assigned to sort through the trash and remove construction and demolition debris from the waste stream tried several times to kick the soccer ball back up the hill to where two Waste Management trucks had dumped two pungent loads of garbage.

He was not successful.

Ten years from now, that soccer ball — or what remains of it — will be underneath a massive pile of municipal solid waste and the DANC landfill will be full.

Only “select” waste will be used to lay the foundation for cells 10 and 11. It will be “softer” waste, mostly composed of household garbage, according to Richard R. LeClerc, DANC Solid Waste Division manager. But eventually, heavier debris will come down on top of that initial layer as a mountain of trash is gradually constructed.

Cells 10 and 11, which opened Tuesday, are the last two in the facility’s footprint.

A proposed expansion at the landfill, which officials expect will be approved, will add about 110 acres to the 78-acre footprint and could extend the facility’s life to 2083, according to Mr. LeClerc.

The landfill is the sole location for the depositing of municipal solid waste for St. Lawrence and Lewis counties and the primary disposal site for Jefferson County.

DANC officials hope to stretch that projected 2083 deadline into the next century by circulating a proposed local law that aims to bring its charter counties in line with the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s goal. The DEC hopes to bring the amount of waste generated by state residents down from an average of 4.1 pounds per person per day in 2010 to an average of 0.6 pounds per person per day in 2030.

The proposal includes provisions for outreach to the public about the availability and benefits of recycling, revised permitting procedures for waste haulers and enforcement of the law should permit holders mix recyclable material with solid waste.

The law’s goal is to reduce the amount of recyclables in the waste stream, according to DANC officials.

Construction on the cells was completed in the fall.

Costs associated with the project were estimated at $8.3 million. The contract was awarded to Adhan Piping Co. Inc. at $6.4 million, according to Mr. LeClerc.

The “double composite liner system,” which lies below the trash, is constructed of layers of thick clay and stone with a pipe to collect leachate — rainwater that seeps through the trash. A second pipe is laid a layer beneath the first. If any leachate finds its way into that pipe, it must be reported to DEC and dealt with immediately, Mr. LeClerc said.

DANC environmental technician Mark S. Tyo used to call the cells home.

The land the cells are built on was once a part of his father’s farm, where he grew up working in agriculture before moving into construction and waste management.

Today, he lives less than a mile down the road from the landfill, where he has worked for 12 years.

“Living next door to it, I’m one of the persons that’s saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to make sure it’s safe for my family,’” Mr. Tyo said. “For me, it’s an interesting job.”

For the next 10 years, an average of 80 truckloads of trash a day will be dumped into the new cells. That number can climb to as high as 95 trucks a day in the summer, Mr. LeClerc said.

All on top of that one tiny soccer ball.

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