The Horry County Solid Waste Authority is planning a roundtable discussion next month about what to do with the landfill when it closes 22 years from now.
The talks come as at least one County Councilman wants to explore restructuring the authority to turn it into a commission or committee. All the while, $118 million in current and future funds designated to maintain the landfill until 2065 sits on the table.
“I wanted to be sure the funds, closure and post-closure, I want to know how we can protect these funds and be sure they are protected,” said Mike Campbell, board member on the solid waste authority at its meeting Tuesday. “Because if we spend that money, if whoever takes over, if it happens, the residents will have to pay again and it’s already paid for. I just want to be sure the funds are protected.”
Councilman Jody Prince is the councilman who asked County Attorney Arrigo Carotti to look into re-structuring the authority. He did not return a call for comment Wednesday.
Horry County’s landfill on S.C. 90 is one of nine landfills statewide owned by local governments. Fourteen others are privately owned.
Before a landfill like Horry County’s is approved by the Department of Health and Environmental Control, a landfill owner is required to have funding to not only properly close it, but also to monitor and fix environmental problems that could occur, according to the department’s website.
When a landfill is closed, it is capped with a layer of clay, a plastic liner and a layer of soil . The cap is seeded to grow grass, according to DHEC. The landfill is monitored for 30 years and its maintenance is paid for by funds saved by the local government.
The authority’s kitty of $28 million has been about 20 years in the making. Part of the tipping fees to dump into the landfill is applied toward that fund. The authority projects it needs an additional $90 million at closing time and for the remaining 30 years it must be in the authority’s care.
Danny Knight, executive director of the authority, said he does not have an answer yet as to what happens to the funds if Prince’s wish of turning the authority into a commission or committee is granted.
“We’re continuing to work on it,” he said. “We haven’t figured out that issue.”
But, he said, the funds already are earmarked to take care of the landfill.
“That money’s spent,” he said. “We just haven’t wrote the check yet.”
Jim Beasley, spokesman for DHEC, said he hears of a lot of different uses for closed landfills, including a former upstate industrial landfill which currently is under development for a community recreational complex to be used for soccer, baseball and BMX biking.
“It is common for these areas to be used as parking lots or other open space,” he said. “It is also common for closed portions of landfills to be used for composting, wood chipping, and other uses related to solid waste management.”
Georgetown County recently closed its landfill, as did Lexington County, which has an older closed landfill. It uses its landfill as a golf practice facility, Beasley said.
He said landfill bonding for closure and post-closure care ranges between $6 million and $30 million.
“The amount is based on a cost estimate that is based on the size of the area needing closure, the availability of cover material, number of gas and groundwater monitoring points, and other factors,” he said.
Knight said the Sept. 12 meeting is designed to allow stakeholders – community members, engineers, County Councilmen and the like – to sit down and discuss what the 2,000-acre parcel could someday be.
Walking trails to nearby International Drive, Carolina Forest Boulevard or the heritage trust preserves are some ideas, Knight said. Others include soccer fields, a model airplane area, Boys Scout and Girl Scout camps, and campgrounds. Officials with Myrtle Beach-based DDC Engineers will lead the meeting.
Knight said the idea, over the years, has been met with resistance.
“Some people just say put a fence around it and leave it alone,” he said. “That’s just crazy. The landfill itself is just a portion of these 2,000 acres Why not dig the ponds, put the road network in the future, there’ll be a use for the public.”
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.