By Dedra Cordle
A public forum was held on Dec. 6 at Grove City High School for residents to learn about the permit application process for the expansion of the Franklin County Landfill.
During the nearly hour-long forum, representatives with the Ohio EPA explained what was being requested, how the department monitors the landfill, the standards the landfill operators must meet and what the next steps are in the application process.
According to Allan Hurtt, the solid waste permit reviewer in the division of materials and waste management, the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio has requested an expansion of the landfill on London-Groveport Road in order to extend its lifespan by 50 years.
The expansion, explained Hurtt, calls for a 50-acre increase for waste collection, which would extend the acreage to 333. The proposal also calls for an increase in the elevation, or the slope, of the landfill by 175 feet.
He added that the proposal does not call for an increase of waste collection, which is capped by 8,000 tons of waste per day. Currently, SWACO collects roughly 4,000 tons of waste per day.
Hurtt said that, like all landfills, the department continuously monitors its activity and practices.
“We require all of them to use best available technology (to keep the site in compliance with regulations),” he said.
For example, the department requires special linings to protect the groundwater, methods to limit emissions, and methods to reduce the amount of birds flocking near the landfill. The landfill operators are also required to put money into a fund for future closure.
Hurtt also added that multiple permits are required and they are thoroughly reviewed to ensure the standards will be met during the expansion application process.
He mentioned the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit, the Storm Water Permit and the 401/404 Wetlands Permit as examples of the extensive review process.
Kristopher Weiss, a public interest liaison with the Ohio EPA, told the audience that SWACO’s proposed expansion application is still in the beginning stages.
“There is a long way to go.”
He said some of the next steps include more research, composing and issuing a draft permit, scheduling and hosting public hearing to get comments and feedback, reviewing the public comments and ensuring that all necessary Ohio EPA permits have been issues.
“Then the director will issue or deny the final permit,” Weiss said.
He also mentioned that an issuance or denial could be contested in court.
“This process could be lengthy so we do not have a timeline estimation,” Weiss said.
During the meeting, Weiss mentioned they would not be taking on-the-record comments from the public regarding the expansion of the landfill, but a few offered them regardless.
David Black, a farmer who lives nearby, said he is concerned by the request to expand the landfill vertically.
“It’s already tall enough, but it keeps getting taller and taller.”
One resident quipped that Grove City would soon be home to the tallest monument in Franklin County.
Glenda Sheets, a resident of Pleasant Township who owns property near the landfill, said she also has concerns about the height of the landfill, but feels that SWACO has done a good job of maintaining the site and responding to complaints in a timely manner.
“We had a bird issue once and they were very responsive,” she said. “They had the USDA out the next day and they quickly addressed the problem.”
Weiss said these are the types of comments the department would like to hear further in the review process.
He also mentioned that the public can stay up-to-date on the process by visiting www.epa.ohio.gov/dmwm/Home.aspx to request to be on the mailing list either via mail or email. The mailing address is as follows: Ohio EPA, Division of Materials and Waste Management, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43210. The email address is email@example.com.