By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

New studies are being considered for Del Norte Countys transfer station after state agencies said all three potential locations are encroaching on protected wetlands.

The comments were received by the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) of possible transfer station sites. A public comment period, which ended Nov. 2, was open to all citizens, interest groups and government agencies concerned about the potential locations.

Why do we need more studies? Chairman Jack Reese asked about a subject critics claimed has been studied to death.

I think that will become clear to you when you review the comments on the draft EIR, Director Kevin Hendrick replied.

The nature of the studies would be nature-related, Hendrick said after the meeting. The Coastal Commission gave us a lot of comments about the wetlands around the landfill site that need to be considered.

The countys landfill site is currently the preferred site for the transfer station. Two alternate sites are within a mile of each other on Elk Valley Road, called the Hooshnam and Hambro sites.

A mandatory 100-foot buffer zone between new development and existing wetland areas was the main concern for the California Coastal Commission, where it claims all three location designs possibly violate this buffer zone.

The (draft EIR) has delineated the presence of wetlands at the three project alternative sites, said Jim Baskin, coastal planner with the Commission. With respect to project development at the Landfill site alternative, it is noted that a buffer of zero feet is proposed at several locations between wetlands and (the transfer station).

Baskin said the Hambro design and possibly the Hooshnam design are also within 100 feet of wetlands.

Hendrick said definitions between agencies on what constitutes a wetland is a problem the Solid Waste Authority will have to deal with.

We did consider the buffer zones in the draft, but now we need to go back and see what it is they (the agencies) are referring to, Hendrick said. Unfortunately, there is a different a protocol for different agencies. They have different standards for what a wetland is and they tend to look at their own particular thing.

Hendrick said 69 written responses were received by the Solid Waste Authority before the draft-EIR comment deadline.

The next step is we need to review all of the comments received in preparing the final EIR, said Hendrick. We need to respond to those things we hadnt thought about before and now we have to think about.

The transfer station, which will replace the countys landfill after it closes in late 2002 or early 2003, will act as a stopover for the countys garbage on its way to distant landfills.