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Friday, January 8th, 2010

Officials pen policy for planned landfill

By Shelley Grieshop
Local health officials may be the first in the state to pen a unique policy for a construction and demolition debris landfill proposed to open in rural Rockford.
The Mercer County-Celina City Health board on Wednesday approved terms of a policy that would dictate how the Liberty Environmental Storage Facility site along state Route 49 will be maintained in the future if the business eventually closes, is abandoned or sold.
The board action amends their previously written trust policy to extend the post-closure period from five to 10 years. Their hope is to further insure the county isn't saddled financially if the site later becomes a hazard after Liberty inadequately performs clean-up measures and closes its doors.
According to terms of the operating license held by Liberty, the company must regularly contribute to the trust fund. The money will be returned to the company when the facility closes or the funds can be used by the county to clean-up and maintain the property if abandoned by the owner.
Officials at the Ohio Department of Health and the state EPA only have "post-closure" regulations for solid waste landfills, not construction and debris landfills, county Sanitarian Michelle Kimmel told the board on Wednesday. There is no precedent to follow, she said.
"We're stepping out into unknown territory," Kimmel said.
Kimmel said that solid waste landfill trust funds typically include closure periods up to 30 years. She said construction and demolition debris landfills obviously deal with different types of materials but noted the items discarded aren't as tightly scrutinized or monitored as health officials would like.
Liberty bought the land five miles north of state Route 29 in 1999 but has yet to begin operations as a landfill. They are legally licensed to do so. The 80-acre property includes a two-story scalehouse and the company recently applied for a permit to install on the land.
The property first came under controversy in 2001 after it was rezoned for commercial use. Neighbors to the site objected to the proposal for a landfill but later discovered the property could be used for such an operation.
The local health board discussed the current issue at their December meeting but opted to review the topic further before taking action.
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