Discussion continues on proposed closure of transfer stations

By Debra J. Groom

The Transfer Station Advisory Committee got answers to their questions at a meeting last week, but they still want some more information before deciding what can be done to keep the transfer stations open.

The committee was born out of the May 28 meeting of the Oswego County Town Supervisors Association. The supervisors discussed the Oswego County Legislature’s proposal about the transfer stations and said more research needed to be done on the issue.

A closure plan written by county officials was distributed to the legislature’s Infrastructure and Facilities committee May 27 outlining how four transfer stations (Pulaski, Hastings, Oswego and Hannibal) could be closed.

Frank Visser, director of the Solid Waste department for the county, said closing the stations — two at the end of 2014 and two at the end of 2015 — would save the county about $500,000 a year.

Here is some of the information the committee members received in a written report discussed at the meeting June 26:

Raising the cost for the stickers and punch cards.

Visser said raising these transfer station fees for residents would bring in more revenue. But in the past, each time the county has raised these costs, fewer stickers and punch cards were sold, so the county actually did not make more money.

Changing the work week for transfer station employees.

Committee member and Richland councilman Kern Yerdon thought changing the work schedule from five eight-hour days to four 10-hour days would provide enough employees working each day but would cut down on overtime.

Visser said it wouldn’t work because the schedule would leave two men working at each transfer station on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. One man has to be out on a truck each day doing recyclables. So that would leave one person covering the transfer station and that isn’t enough, Visser said.

Sorting metal could bring in more money.

Visser said he talked with county solid waste officials in other counties (Steuben, Fulton, Franklin, Oneida-Herkimer, Onondaga) and none sort metals. Madison County does sort metals, but the labor is done by prisoners and workfare people sent from the county Department of Social Services.

Visser also said scrap metal dealers also said “there may not be a return on investment in sorting and dismantling” metals. Secure facilities would be needed to house the metals and the operation would be highly dependent on the going price for metals in the market.

Bringing in waste from other counties.

Oswego County passed a law in 1980 banning importation of solid waste to the county’s landfill at Bristol Hill. Plus, Visser said it is doubtful waste could be found to be brought to Oswego County – surrounding counties have their own landfills or have long-term agreements in place. Also Seneca Meadows in Seneca County, the second largest landfill in the country, takes outside waste and has a very low tipping fee.

Amount of traffic at the transfer stations.

Visser estimates about 420,000 visits a year. He said an actual traffic study has not been done.

Having a county operated recycling facility.

The county built a Materials Recovery Facility in 1992 and was built to accommodate a capacity of 150 tons of recyclables per day. But the site never saw more than 40 tons per day. The facility was closed and “the processing of recyclables was contracted out for modest revenue,”

Can methane from the landfill be sold for money?

The report states very little gas is generated. In fact, there are flares connected to the gas recovery system at the landfill and often there is so little gas the flares will not light.

Some committee members said during the meeting they believe county officials haven’t thought enough about the human impact that will occur if the transfer stations close.

“This affects people throughout the county big time,” said Palermo Supervisor Patricia Redhead. “Think about the people in Redfield, Sandy Creek, Orwell and Boylston – is we close Pulaski (transfer station), those people aren’t going to travel (to Bristol Hill).”

She wanted to know what the impact would be on people to close each of the transfer stations. “Perhaps we can close one on the east (side of the Oswego River) and one on the west,” she said.

“I think Hannibal’s taking a lot of lumps here and it’s not on a level playing field,” said Hannibal Mayor Fred Kent. “I think money should be invested in putting in scales (to weigh waste) at Hannibal.”

Kent said there are 20,000 people on the west side of the river who could use Hannibal’s transfer station, but it needs scales to offer the same service as the other stations. He said scales could be purchased for $30,000, but Visser said it would cost $100,000.

Yerdon wondered why the solid waste department is supposed to be self sufficient while other county departments aren’t. County Administrator Philip Church said in the mid-2000s in a report on the solid waste system it was decided the program must be self sufficient.

“What is comes down to is what are people willing to pay for,” said county Legislator Amy Treisdder, D-Oswego. “It’s going to cost money (now) and it’s going to cost more money in the future.”

The next comimttee meeting is 6 p.m. Thursday July 24 in the county office building in Oswego.

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