When the Orange County landfill was first built in 1972, its neighbors were told it would be closed after 10 years.
Now, after 41 years in its Eubanks Road location and almost two years of planning, the landfill will close its gates at noon on Saturday, June 29.
Following the closure, all Orange County trash will be sent to a transfer station in Durham, pending a long-term garbage disposal solution.
While it’s less expensive to dispose of trash in Durham than Orange County, hauling trash to Durham will cost Chapel Hill approximately $341,000 in fiscal year 2013-14 in addition to the $3.5 million it spends yearly on waste disposal.
A ceremony marking the closing will take place at the landfill at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The closure plan will include a cap system made of a thick, synthetic liner to cover the landfill.
The liner will cover the entire surface and then be covered with dirt and vegetation to prevent erosion. It will also have vents to allow the county to continue its methane gas recovery program, which provides power to some UNC buildings.
After the closure, the county will haul the approximately 15,000 tons of waste it produces every year to the Waste Disposal and Recycling Center transfer station in Durham.
The transfer station will serve as an intermediate facility where waste will be consolidated, loaded into trucks and finally transported to a waste management facility.
The towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough, as well as Orange County, will spend three to five years in this interim phase while developing a more permanent solution, said Orange County Solid Waste Management Director Gayle Wilson.
“We need to be sure that the municipalities in Orange County and the University are going to work with us before we make a large investment,” Wilson said.
“And we would need to find the technology that we would feel confident we could invest in and not find a few years later that it’s ineffective, cost-prohibitive, environmentally degrading or simply inefficient.”
While Orange County and Hillsborough will haul their garbage to the city of Durham transfer station, Chapel Hill and Carrboro will take their waste to the privately owned Waste Industries transfer station, also in Durham.
Orange County Board of Commissioners Chairman Barry Jacobs said though the move will be costly for both the towns and the county, transferring waste to Durham is the best temporary option.
“It’s time to close it,” Jacobs said. “We need to find alternative means for disposal. For now we’ll take it to Durham and hope to find a more environmentally sound solution.”
Chapel Hill issued a request last week for bids to provide the town with future recycling services, said Wendy Simmons, Chapel Hill’s solid waste services superintendent.
Recently, Orange County Recycling informed the towns it plans to make changes to its current recycling system, prompting Chapel Hill to look for alternative recycling options.
The towns are also seeking proposals for the development of a transfer station in Chapel Hill.
A potential site for the Chapel Hill transfer station is off Millhouse Road, near the Town Operations Center.
Wilson said Orange County has not yet entered into long-term planning efforts, but it will begin to evaluate potential solutions after the landfill officially closes.
And after the closure, no former employee of the landfill will be left jobless, he said.
While Wilson said there will be a reduction of about six positions, these jobs were eliminated either through employees retiring or successfully finding employment in another division of the county’s Solid Waste Management department.
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