Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Proposed Leachate Pipeline from American Landfill Shifts Leachate Disposal Problems To City of Canton Taxpayers & Sewer Users

Prepared Comments Made to
January 14, 2013 
      The City of Canton anticipates increased costs for the disposal of sludge as a result of Federal environmental regulation. This is a problem that was set in motion in the early 1970s when Canton chose to shorten its wastewater treatment process and eliminate the use of digesters at the treatment plant.
      Digesters render the mass of sludge that remains at the end of the treatment process and converts it into a non-hazardous form so that it may be handled or used with minimal health hazards. 
      This council body should be discussing the restoration of the use of digesters at the treatment plant so you are not left with hazardous sludge that requires special handling.
      Concocting an arrangement where Canton agrees to accept a waste product from American Landfill in exchange for their agreeing to accept Canton’s hazardous sludge for disposal at a landfill only serves to increase the amount of hazardous materials going into a landfill.
      The taxpayers of Canton expect city leaders to handle the city’s waste in an environmentally friendly manner. Sending ever growing amounts of hazardous sludge to a landfill when this can be avoided is NOT a prudent course of action to take in this situation.
      Any course of action that does not return to a more complete and environmentally friendly treatment of wastewater at the treatment plant simply compounds the predicament that this Council is now facing. 
      The legislation before you  to approve a contract between the City of Canton and American Landfill,  allowing American Landfill to construct a 12-mile pipeline to dispose of leachate, has been presented as a means to avoid increases in sewer rates for rate payers who utilize sewer services provided by the City of Canton. 
      After analyzing the sewer charges I pay to the City of Canton for residential sewer treatment, I am wondering why the leachate pipeline is being contemplated at all. 
      For my wife and me, if the City of Canton would prefer to not accept the leachate from American Landfill, with all the pitfalls that the deal entails, a 5.0% rate increase would increase my monthly costs for Canton Sewer from $5.00 per month to $5.25 per month. A 7.25% rate increase that has also been proffered would raise my monthly costs from $5.00 per month to $5.36 per month. These are not burdensome increases.
      Is this really what the concern is all about? Entering into a deal such as is proposed simply to avoid increasing sewer bills by an amount that equals pocket change that most of us carry in our pockets! 
      I would think that there is NOT one single Canton sewer rate payer who would suggest that the City of Canton accept leachate from a landfill simply to avoid a monthly increase in their sewer bill of what amounts to pocket change.
      The need to dispose of sludge at a higher disposal rate has come at a convenient time and what I believe to be only a smokescreen for the highly questionable contract to accept leachate from a landfill. 
      The disposal of sludge at a lower rate is camouflage for the contract that asks the taxpayers to take on the problems of a landfill. 
      The upcoming increase in costs to dispose of sludge can easily be absorbed with an increase in Canton sewer rates with little impact on rate payers as I have shown.
      I believe the proposed leachate pipeline is driven by politics and that the reasons that have been put forth by the Administration to move ahead with the contract with Waste Management do not warrant passage of the legislation. 
      The parent company of American Landfill is Waste Management, a corporation with more than $12.5 billion in revenue in 2010, and they are looking for ways to reduce expenses related to the disposal of leachate.  That is what this deal is all about. And what better way than to wrap this deal up and make it appear to be beneficial to the City of Canton when it absolutely is not good for Canton. 
      I strongly urge Canton City Council to vote down the proposed contract with Waste Management.
      In the interim, I urge Canton City Council to cover the cost of sludge disposal through an increase in sewer rates and to look into restoring the digester treatment process at the treatment plant that was once utilized by Canton’s wastewater treatment plant.
      Any action short of that is a band-aid on the problem of sludge disposal. 
      Until Canton further refines its treatment process, you will always be left with sludge that must be landfilled and you will again find yourselves at the mercy of people looking to unload their waste issue on the taxpayers of Canton. 

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton