By Frank Lewis
Three inspections of the city of Portsmouth’s transfer station by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have resulted in three citations in the form of notice of violations. Those violations were cited on March 31, 2015, May 20, 2015, and June 18, 2015. Those notices have led Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen to say because the city is a repeat violator with three notices of violation, the Ohio EPA is ready to proceed with enforcement actions.
Allen said he had not learned of the violations until Aug. 12 when he and Portsmouth City Solicitor John Haas met with Sara Anderson, environmental specialist with the Division of Materials Waste Management of the Ohio EPA. The purpose of that meeting was to discuss the EPA’s desire to permit the transfer station.
Allen said the city’s transfer station is a non-permitted transfer facility and is inspected by the Ohio EPA Southeast District which covers 23 counties. As a non-permitted facility the city is under the 50-cubic-yard exemption for hauling waste to the landfill.
According to a segment of the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) – “the total volume of all containers at the facility designated for receiving solid waste may not exceed 50 cubic yards.”
History shows the city had originally installed a large compactor unit in 1993 at a cost of $396,000, and when it failed in 2009, replaced it with a much smaller compactor at a cost of $45,500 plus $1,700 for installation.
In April of 2014 the city changed from the contract with Rumpke where they operated the transfer station and hauled refuse to the landfill to the city operating the transfer station and Republic hauling the refuse to the landfill. With the change from the dump semi-trailers with a welded 50-cubic-yard restrictor wall to the enclosed box dumpsters that Republic utilized. The enclosed box dumpsters hauled less than the 50 cubic yards.
The city and Republic experienced operational problems from April of 2014 to April of 2015. Special couplings had to be made to connect the boxes to the compactor and the openings had to be enlarged to align with the compactor.
Two problems occurred as a result – first was when the refuse was pushed into the boxes the connectors welded to the boxes would snap releasing the box from the compactor, and second problem encountered was that since Republic hauled the refuse to their landfill outside Ashland, Kentucky, instead of the Rumpke facility in Piketon. Allen said the longer travel distance meant longer travel times and, as a result, boxes could be filled faster than they could be hauled back and forth to and from the landfill. He said the result was a queue of refuse hauling boxes at the facility.
The bottom line is the total sum of the refuse obviously exceeded the 50 cubic yard limit allowed on the facility at any given time.
Allen said the Ohio EPA is expecting the city administration to take immediate action to resolve the matter and he listed three alternatives. One would be to close the transfer station; a second would be to not permit the transfer station and install a new compactor and operate with less than 50 cubic yards at the facility at any time. Finally, the city could choose to permit the transfer station through EPA and pay the permit fee. Allen followed that list with – “Options 1 and 2 are not feasible options. That left option 3.”
He said, in order to permit the transfer station the city would be required to pay the a one-time fee of $2,100; $750 annually and $4.75 per ton of refuse moved through the transfer station.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.