Lebanon landfill will accept C&D waste; ban remains in Hartford

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/13/2019 10:38:34 PM

WEST LEBANON — Officials in Lebanon and Hartford agreed last week to steer construction and demolition, or C&D, waste to the Lebanon landfill, which is preparing to once again accept the material from Upper Valley residents and businesses.

Hartford’s Selectboard decided last week to maintain its ban on construction debris, at least until Lebanon approves new rules this month.

Lifting the ban could double costs to run Hartford’s transfer station on Route 5, town officials warned the Selectboard. Prices to grind and transport the material are rising, they said, and state regulations could soon make sorting debris more difficult.

“It would be a huge increase we would have to pass along,” Town Manager Brannon Godfrey said during Tuesday’s meeting. “And when the Lebanon landfill is right there, there is no need to play middleman.”

Meanwhile, the Lebanon City Council continued on Wednesday to hammer out new rules for the landfill, a nearly 40-acre facility on Route 12A in West Lebanon along the Connecticut River.

Prices to unload C&D, residential and commercial waste all would increase under those rules, which are designed to expand the landfill’s lifespan, prepare for future expansions and clean chemicals from groundwater.

“The universe of solid waste management is changing,” said Marc Morgan, Lebanon’s solid waste manager. “The hole that Lebanon enjoys putting its garbage in is not getting larger, and there aren’t more of them being constructed anywhere.”

Both communities accepted C&D waste for years until issuing moratoriums in recent months.

Lebanon stopped taking the debris in May after officials worried it was filling the landfill too quickly. The material doesn’t compress well, they said, estimating the landfill would last only another eight to nine years under current conditions.

Hartford’s ban came a month later when Orange-based Hammond Grinding and Recycling declined to continue grinding the material and hauling it to Lebanon, where it was used as a cover for other waste.

Hammond hadn’t increased prices in 20 years, town officials said Tuesday. And while the firm is open to renegotiating, they said, it might be cheaper to send people to Lebanon.

The closings left contractors, commercial haulers and residents of the 21 communities authorized to use Lebanon’s facility with few options to unload shingles, drywall and other forms of construction waste.

While Hammond operates its own C&D facility in Orange and Casella Waste Systems has a facility off Route 120 in Lebanon, businesses complained that prices quickly increased without the municipal competition.

Officials, however, say the Lebanon landfill won’t be offering big deals when it reopens to C&D waste.

The City Council on Wednesday approved a $150 per ton charge to drop off the material, a sharp increase from the $68 it offered before May. Mayor Tim McNamara said the new rate is still considered low when compared with other options.

The city also is proposing to raise rates for punch cards for 10 bags of trash, which could jump to $15 from the $10 that’s now being charged. And commercial solid waste would cost $75 a ton to dump, up from $68.68.

Overall, Lebanon plans rely on an estimated revenue of $882,000 from the combined fees to prepare for future expansions, pay for C&D grinding and comply with proposed groundwater regulations.

While city councilors on Wednesday didn’t dispute the charges, they did tussle over how new rules would be enforced. Lebanon is proposing to ban residents and haulers from dropping off “mixed loads,” or loads of trash with commercial waste mixed in.

Councilor Clifton Below proposed allowing each household within the landfill’s 21-town service area to drop off a bag of commercial waste per week, saying the option could prevent people from sneaking prohibited items into their household waste.

“I don’t think we should become trash Nazis and go into the practice of requiring people (to open) up their bags, or asking our personnel to open up bags,” Below said.

But Morgan, the solid waste manager, countered that no one will be opening bags at the landfill. When people come in to drop off trash, they’ll be asked what’s in a bag and directed to the appropriate dumpster, he said.

“There’s a presumption that somehow we’re going to see the contents of those bags,” Morgan said, comparing the C&D system to hazardous waste, which also is banned from the landfill but sometimes sneaks its way into people’s trash.

The Lebanon City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed landfill fees and rules when it next meets at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 24.

Copies of the changes are on Lebanon’s website at www.lebanonnh.gov under “LebNews.”

Valley News staff writer Jordan Cuddemi contributed to this report. Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

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