Sparks fly over landfill closure date memo

June 21, 2001 11:00 pm

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Sparks flew between board members and their director at the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority meeting yesterday.

Board member Clyde Eller accused Solid Waste Management Authority Director Kevin Hendrick of withholding information from the board that indicates the landfill could stay open a year longer than previously presumed.

Pacific Waste Services, Inc., the contractor that operates the landfill, submitted the estimate to the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authoritys staff in a memo dated May 3.

Why did you withhold this memo? Eller asked Hendrick.

Thats not an accurate characterization, Hendrick replied.

Oh, I see, I was supposed to ask you for this memo, which I didnt know about, before the board meeting? Eller asked.

Would you let Mr. Hendrick answer? Chairman Jack Reese asked of Eller.

I dont care to hear his answer, said Eller.

Originally, the landfill was estimated to reach maximum capacity in January 2002. That date was later amended to May 2003. The new estimate now pushes that date up to May 2004.

Hendrick said he did not ignore the estimate, rather it was discounted on the grounds there is no new data to back it up.

You told us we had until January 2002, Hendrick said to Pacifics vice president Tom Valentino. Theres a stamp from your company on that and nothing has changed since then ... Its up to us to believe an estimate with a stamp, or to believe you now and all you have is a memo and a public statement.

In a staff report Hendrick supplied to the board, he suggested ... if Mr. Valentinos analysis proves incorrect, it represents a gross error, a misleading misrepresentation, or both.

Hendrick said his major concern with Valentinos figures is how it would affect the future transfer station, which will eventually replace the landfill.

If his estimate is wrong, which everything indicates that it is, we wont have the transfer station built in time, Hendrick said. We would end up moving ahead under the assumption the landfill will operate a year beyond its capacity.

After the meeting, Valentino expressed regret his estimate had caused grief when he said it was well-intentioned.

I am out of the business of making estimates now, said Valentino. I thought this would help the process, regardless of how long it lasts beyond our contract date of November 2002.