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City Council to discuss public drop-off facility at landfill

Monday, March 5, 2012 | 9:27 p.m. CST; updated 8:04 a.m. CST, Tuesday, March 6, 2012

COLUMBIA — The City Council set a public hearing for March 19 regarding a construction project aimed at making the city landfill more convenient and safe for small vehicles.

The proposed project includes a paved public drop-off facility at the landfill to serve as a separate waste disposal area for small vehicles, including cars and passenger trucks. Currently, drivers of small vehicles must dispose of their waste at the working face of the landfill, along with the city's commercial waste haulers.

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The project would improve customer safety and convenience, as well as the overall efficiency of the landfill operation, said Cynthia Mitchell, landfill and recovery superintendent.

"The commercial haulers that come out here every day know the circumstances and are equipped to deal with it because they're out in the weather collecting, but for the citizen, I think it's an improvement to be able to offer them the convenience and safer environment for disposing of their materials," Mitchell said.

The project is estimated to cost $250,000. It will be funded with a portion of the $780,000 project balance remaining after the completion of other construction at the landfill.

In 2009, the Columbia landfill received authorization from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to use bioreactor technology to boost the creation of methane gas used to generate electricity.

Unlike traditional landfills that leave the waste dry and compacted, the bioreactor pumps liquid into landfill cells, which are used to store garbage. The liquid helps advance decomposition, which speeds up methane production.

Mitchell said the liquid added to the waste by the bioreactor operation leaves the ground muddier, which challenges small vehicles, causing them to get stuck at the landfill's working face.

Initial planning for the project dates back to 2004, and the plan was revisited and updated with current site conditions within the past year.

Mitchell left Columbia for three and a half years, and before returning in May 2010, she visited 15 to 20 landfills in the state. 

"I've been to almost all the landfills, and most of them that are of any size have a small vehicle drop off that provides convenience to the citizens, as well as makes operation at the working face of the landfill where we actually dispose of the trash much more efficient and safe," she said.

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