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Transfer station siting criteria examined

By Taylor Sisk
Staff Writer

The Board of County Commissioners reviewed site selection criteria for a solid-waste transfer station this week, settling on a process that starts by eliminating environmentally sensitive areas and that looks for sites close to major roads and heavy trash generation.

At a Tuesday night work session, the commissioners heard from Ed Shuffler of Olver Inc. regarding progress made in establishing a search process for the siting of the transfer site in Orange County. Olver is the consulting firm hired by the county to establish criteria, conduct the search and advise the commissioners on the selection of a site.

The majority of Tuesday night’s meeting – held prior to the commissioner’s regular session – was concerned with a discussion of preliminary exclusionary criteria, which is scheduled to be nailed down on March 18. The list of this criteria includes wetlands and floodplains; endangered and protected habitats; protected sites of historical, archeological or cultural significance; and park preserves. This proposed criteria further indicates that the site should be at least 25 acres, that it be located in Orange County and that it be within three miles of the county’s major arteries – though the commissioners and Shuffler discussed reducing this distance to one mile.

Proposed technical siting criteria were also discussed. These include stipulations that the transfer station be placed in a location within a given radius of the center of trash generation (as calculated by Olver); Shuffler suggested a 10-mile radius. Other proposed technical criteria include truck and traffic compatibility; access to major transportation routes; buffer space; and space for recycling, composting and public education.

An “Orange County Transfer Station Siting Process Resolution Commitment to Public Participation” was read and unanimously adopted at the close of the meeting.
During a public comments session, Neloa Jones of the Coalition to End Environmental Racism (CEER) expressed her concern that some potential sites would be eliminated from consideration by exclusionary criteria before community-specific criteria are established. It is with community-specific criteria that environmental justice concerns are addressed.

Members of CEER have argued that Eubanks Road should be taken out of consideration as a potential transfer station site under federally established principles of environmental justice. Eubanks Road has been the site of the Orange County Landfill for more than 35 years. (To learn more about environmental justice and the Rogers-Eubanks roads community, visit www.carrborocitizen.com/main/rogers-road.)

Last spring, the board of commissioners voted to site the transfer station on Eubanks Road, then in November announced they were reopening the search, though Eubanks remains under consideration.

“You must first develop the criteria – all of it,” Jones said in a Wednesday interview. “This process is not in keeping with what the EPA recommends.”

According to the county’s proposed transfer station flow chart, potential sites are scheduled to be identified prior to either the technical or community-specific criteria and their weighting factors being established.

Environmental Protection Agency policy recommends that: “To maintain objectivity in the facility siting process, the community-specific criteria should be prioritized before potential sites are known.”

At the close of Tuesday night’s work session, board Chairman Barry Jacobs pointed out that social justice language in the public-participation resolution was added at the commissioners’ initiative and that comments from the public regarding environmental justice concerns had been well heard.

He reiterated though that the commissioners are presently limited in what they could say in this regard due to an administrative complaint filed against the board, among other local and state administrative bodies, by members of the Rogers-Eubanks roads community with the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights, alleging environmental injustice.

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  1. John Kramer

    Barry Jacobs is full of baloney. He could discuss the issue if he wanted to. He is hiding behind the complaint. What a poser.

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