By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Hambro Forest Products is apparently the only company still in the running to operate a proposed solid waste transfer station, thanks to some behind the scenes maneuvering that makes it virtually impossible for anyone else to enter a competitive bid.

According to documents delivered to the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority, Hambro submitted a bid in partnership with Waste Solutions Group of San Francisco, which has the exclusive right to dump garbage at Dry Creek Landfill in Medford, the closest landfill to Crescent City.

Its just a bad situation, said Tom Sparrow of Del Norte Disposal in Crescent City, a company which was interested in operating the transfer station. There is no competitive bidding that can take place in this county now.

Sparrow sent a letter to the Solid Waste Management Authority saying it would not be offering a proposal to operate the station. Pacific Waste Services vice president Tom Valentino also sent a letter, saying his company would not bother submitting a proposal it had no chance of winning.

The only other landfill that would accept Del Norte County waste is Anderson, Valentino said, which is about twice as far away from Crescent City than is Dry Creek Landfill making that option economically prohibitive.

Dry Creek is approximately 90 miles from Crescent City over a major highway. Anderson is more than 150 miles away on a less favorable highway. After Anderson, the next closest landfill is in Corvallis, Ore., which is 419 miles further north than Dry Creek.

We paid $7,666 to an outside consulting firm to prepare our proposal, Sparrow said. All we were lacking was the actual disposal cost. Dry Creek wasnt returning our phone calls for a long time. When we finally heard back from them, they said we couldnt do business there.

Manager Don Cordell of Dry Creek confirmed this Wednesday. When asked if the Dry Creek/Waste Solutions agreement is exclusive, Cordell said yes. When asked if this constituted a monopoly, he said no.

I dont think you can absolutely say that. Theres only a monopoly when you can control the price, he said. Anybody can bid on it (a contract). And they can always dump their garbage at Anderson or Corvallis.

Cordell said Dry Creek has been dealing with portions of Waste Solutions operations in Humboldt County since 1998. When asked if the exclusivity agreement dated back that far, Cordell replied: We do have an agreement with Waste Solutions, and Im going to leave it at that.

Kevin Hendrick, director of the countys Solid Waste Management Authority, said county officials were aware of the exclusivity contract with Waste Solutions before the June 20 proposal submission deadline.

Sparrow indicated the county might be stepping into legal entanglements, but it is still too early to tell.

Until the contract is awarded there is nothing anybody can legally do, Sparrow said. I really dont know if it would be worth pursuing legally, and perhaps all it would do is hurt the taxpayers.

Hendrick said he believed the county is safe from legal recourse.

We did confer with our attorney in a closed session to see if there was a legal issue we (the county) should be concerned about, Hendrick said. The consensus was it was beyond our control and responsibility.

Hendrick said he spoke directly with Dry Creek with the hope of arranging an agreement between the landfill and the county, but said company representatives were not warm to the idea of an agreement with Del Norte.

From the countys perspective, weve run a competitive process, Hendrick said. From my perspective, the garbage business isnt always competitive.

Because of the proposal pullouts before the deadline, only two proposals were ever submitted: one from Hambro/WSG, the other from Aandamp;G Environmental Services in Washington.

Hendrick said the Aandamp;G proposal is not complete. It only offers to haul refuse to Washington and does not propose to operate the transfer station.

We really only have one true proposal to look at, Hendrick said. If they (Hambro/WSG) get the contract its because of this and not because anything was preordained. Its because they (Hambro) sought out an experienced partner that has a contract with a landfill, and that was smart. They made the right moves and they were smart.

Hambro representatives were not available for comment on Friday.