Harlem’s inert landfill is nearly full, and officials are discussing options to avoid digging a new refuse cell.
The landfill on Sanders Road off Lamkin Road already contains two filled and sealed cells, and a third that city Public Works Director Robert Fields estimates will be filled within a few months.
The landfill property has room for just one more cell, and constructing and permitting it might cost as much as $200,000, City Administrator Jason Rizner said.
The landfill accepts inert material, including limbs, leaves and grass clippings.
Fields said he initially wanted to grind the organic material into mulch as opposed to digging a new cell.
“I said why can’t we just grind it up and either give it away or sell it,” Fields said, adding he had hoped to make use of the mulch on city property as well as make it available to residents.
But it would cost at least $200,000 for the grinding equipment, making the plan cost-prohibitive, Fields said.
“In the state of the economy, we’re not going to be able to afford anything like that,” he said.
Hiring a contractor to grind the material regularly would cost about $4,000 per grind. But the state Environmental Protection Agency says ground material cannot be stockpiled for more than 30 days.
“The problem is as often as we need it done, it is not financially feasible to have them come in here and do it every month,” Fields said. “Either way you go, it isn’t cheap.”
At a recent retreat, held in Gainesville, Ga., city officials decided to temporarily allow a waste disposal company to haul the debris away in roll-off containers.
“That will cost something in the neighborhood of $1,000 per month, but it is much less expensive than monthly grinding or digging an entirely new cell,” Rizner said. “We’re still looking to do a grind later this year, but unfortunately, it looks like that may not be a viable long-term solution.”
Rizner said city officials will continue to research long-term solutions.