Trash Going to Mt. Olive Landfill to Increase

David Denard, Jefferson County director of the county’s department of environmental services. (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Jefferson County Commissioners were told today that the trash going into the county’s Mount Olive Landfill will be increasing, ultimately doubling from up to 1,500 tons a day to up to 3,000 tons a day.

Santek Environmental of Alabama leases and operates the landfills.

The additional trash is allowed under the landfill’s permit, which was approved in 2004. David Denard, director of the county’s department of environmental services, said the increased dumping is allowed under state regulations.

“The environmental protections that are already in place under the permit, locations and where they operate doesn’t change,” he said.

During the meeting, Denard and Santek spokesman Benjamin Johnson fielded questions from commissioners. In response to a question from Commission President Jimmie Stephens, Denard said the lifespan of the landfill is about 50 years.

“One thing, they won’t go from 1,500 to 3,000 overnight,” the environmental services director said. “The lifespan of the permitted cells that are there now is decades. There’s another several hundred acres that are also at the site that could also be permitted. The lifespan of the entire site is probably 50-plus years.”

Commissioner Sheila Tyson asked whether nearby residents will notice a difference in smell. Denard said no.

“So it’s not going to smell like Pratt City or the Ensley area?” Tyson asked.

Said Denard: “At the end of every day, they have to cover the cell.”

Johnson said municipal solid waste goes into the landfill. That includes household waste, construction and demolition debris.

Commissioner Lashunda Scales asked who “on our end” makes sure the landfill is inspected properly.

Denard said the Alabama Department of Environmental Management has inspectors. “We review their reports to make sure they’re accurate,” he said. “We have engineers on our staff who monitor the regulatory reports.”

When Scales pressed the question, Denard said Santek is “ultimately responsible.”

Scales said the county should do more. “It’s our landfill,” she said. “It should be our responsibility.”

Speaking later, county manager Tony Petelos said the landfill is Jefferson County property that is leased to Santek, which pays a fee to the county. He said the 2,000-acre landfill has “plenty of room” for growth, even with the eventual daily deposit of 3,000 tons.

Still, he said it is important to do an even better job of recycling, noting that refuse from the former Interstate 59/20 bridge downtown is being recycled rather than being put into a landfill.

“Santek, ADEM and Jefferson County are doing a very good job,” Petelos said.  “Our landfills are being operated properly and under the law.”