By MELINDA J. OVERSTREET
Glasgow Daily Times
The next stage of development is underway for a facility billed as a self-sustaining economic lift for the city of Glasgow.
A ceremonial groundbreaking Friday for the next cell of the Glasgow Regional Landfill included representatives of Nesbitt Engineering – which has handled the engineering design for the project – Glasgow Mayor Rhonda Riherd Trautman, Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer, Glasgow City Council members and city staff.
The landfill accepts an average of 210 tons of residential waste and 30 tons of demolition debris a day, according to a press release. The planned six-acre new cell will provide additional waste disposal capacity of 290,000 tons at a construction cost of about $1.4 million.
The area will be excavated to or near bedrock level, then lined with a layer of the heavy red clay prevalent in this area, a thinner layer of geosynthetic clay liner rolled out like a mat and finally a 60 mm synthetic liner to prevent liquid that seeps from the trash – called leachate – from getting into the ground. A weblike system is also installed to collect the liquid and carry it to a sedimentation pond.
Paul Nesbitt, president of Lexington-based Nesbitt Engineering, said the first cell provides the least amount of waste containment area, and space is created with each additional cell.
“Your asset of a landfill is air space,” he said. “The whole idea of building a landfill and making it economically viable is to create a design that allows the greatest number of cubic yards of waste to be placed per cubic yards of liner.”
The first 10 feet or so of trash on top of the liner – called the “fluff layer” – is limited to softer material that serves as a buffer to limit the possibility of piercing the liner. The heavy plastic liner for the new cell will be joined to the liner edges of existing cells, so the trash in each new cell can “piggyback” onto what is already there, said landfill manger Alvie Morgan.
Instead of having several rounded mounds of trash that only connect at the bottom and have valleys of air space around them, the trash in each new cell is placed in such a way that the valleys are filled, maximizing the available space, he said.
This process extends the life of the newer cells as well. For example, the active existing cell was started about 2 1/2 years ago and will be used for least another year. The newly constructed one could last up to six years, said Kurt Frey, superintendent of the Glasgow Department of Public Works Department, during an interview conducted earlier in the week.
The entire 356-acre landfill is expected to last about 35 years, he said.
“How long it will last really is a guessing game, because you don’t know how much garbage will come in,” Frey said.
Nesbitt said his company has been working with landfills since 1982, and “this is the best landfill I’ve seen. Alvie does a great job.”
Technology has changed dramatically during that time, Nesbitt said, and landfills can be a costly investment. Having one nearby, though, can be a draw for industries.
“What the city has here is a great asset and it’s well run,” he said. “This landfill is just a great economic drive for the city.”
Trautman echoed that sentiment.
“This is a very important part of our economic development plan for the county and the city … ,” she said. “To have access to a landfill for our local industries, it’s a big cost savings for them to be able to bring that there and know that their waste is going to be handled the way it’s supposed to be.”
Part of the cost of this project – $500,000 – was in the city’s budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, and another $900,000 is expected to be set aside in next year’s budget. But all of the funding comes from revenue generated by the landfill itself – none is from the general fund, Trautman said after the ceremony.
Sanitation fees paid by Glasgow residents and businesses for trash collection provides part of that revenue, with $817,800 budgeted in the current year. But an even larger amount – $1.95 million estimated for this year – is from fees paid by haulers who bring trash collected in Barren and neighboring counties. The landfill also has projected revenue of $45,000 from the sale of recyclable material.
The landfill has permits to receive waste from 15 other counties, although it doesn’t necessarily always receive trash from each one, Trautman said.
“That revenue accumulates in the fund balance (of the Sanitation/Landfill Fund), and then it is there for the next cell construction,” she said. “This was a big investment for the city years ago … but it has become self-sustaining and it does generate revenue for the city. It pays for itself.”
Eventually, the landfill will generate revenue from the sale of methane that is produced naturally in the decomposition process. Construction has begun on a project that will route that methane to a power generation plant owned by East Kentucky Power Cooperative, which provides electricity to Farmers Rural Electric Cooperative Corp.
That money will first go to pay off a $1 million no-interest loan the city received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through FRECC, but any revenue beyond what is needed for those payments would go back to the landfill fund, Trautman said.
While the system to transport methane to the power plant is being added retroactively to the older portions of the landfill, it will be built into the new cells as they go, she said. It takes time for enough methane to be produced in a particular section to be used for power production.
“That will be there for the future years,” Trautman said.