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Board considers sanctions against landfill

November 21, 2012
By DAVE GOSSETT - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson County Board of Health agreed unanimously Tuesday to send a notice of violation to the Apex Sanitary Landfill for failure to pay tipping fees to the health department.

The decision came after a 65-minute executive session that included health board members and representatives from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Health.

The board members also indicated they will consider the immediate suspension of the landfill's 2012 operating license and the denial of the landfill's 2013 license.

It was the second day in a row the landfill near Amsterdam has come under fire for non-payment of tipping fees to local agencies.

The JB Green Team board of trustees voted unanimously Monday night to ask the Jefferson County prosecutor to pursue possible criminal charges against the Apex Landfill as well as a civil lawsuit claiming a breach of contract.

The decision to pursue legal action against the landfill operations came during a 70-minute executive session Monday night that had been called to discuss contract issues and personnel.

JB Green Team Board Chairman Bob Chapman said the landfill has not paid tipping fees to the solid waste authority for the past two months.

"That is approximately $390,000 in unpaid fees due to the JB Green Team. That is a major revenue source for us and we have a contract that they are not following," said Chapman following the meeting.

"The board has instructed me to send a letter to the Jefferson County prosecutor's office seeking its opinion on possible criminal charges against the landfill. The landfill owners have a statutory and contractual requirement to pay those fees. When solid waste is brought to the landfill the operators are paid a fee. They are the trustees for that money. The landfill is now two months in arrears and my understanding is they haven't paid fees to the state as well. And we have also assessed late fees that have not been paid," explained John Mascio Jr., legal counsel for the JB Green Team.

A spokesperson for the Apex Landfill could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Fiscal Officer Dave Hays reported waste tonnage accepted at the landfill decreased by 3 percent in August, "and was down 14 percent in September."

Health Department Administrator Bruce Misselwitz said the board members also discussed the proposed solidification proposal at the landfill during the executive session.

"The landfill does not have a permit to proceed with that process, so it is at a standstill at this time. And this board remains opposed to the solidification proposal," said Misselwitz.

The county board of health unanimously opposed a request by Apex at the October meeting to accept non-hazardous bulk liquids from shale oil and gas drilling operations for disposal at the landfill facility.

The landfill operators have proposed processing the waste through a solidification basin and then disposing the created solid wastes at the landfill.

According to the draft letter, "the non-hazardous liquid wastes are to be mixed with a proprietary admixture or select absorbent solid wastes until the resultant mixture passes the paint filter test and meets the definition of a solid waste. Apex has also requested to divert accepted select solid wastes and not immediately deposit them at the working face as required by rule so that they may be staged within an enclosed freestanding structure for use in their solidification basin."

Health Commissioner Dr. Frank J. Petrola has said he has concerns about radon and other radioactive materials that may be contained in the drilling waste.

"I informed the OEPA the health board will object to this proposal and the board members will be verbal in their opposition, said Misselwitz.

In other business Tuesday, Misselwitz told the board news of collaboration with the Steubenville Health Department, "came as a complete surprise to me."

"I informed officials any contract between the city and the county would have to be between the city council and the district advisory council. If we entered into a contract with the city as we have had in the past with Toronto the contract would have be be approved by the director of the Ohio Department of Health," said Misselwitz.

"I have suggested a contract or collaboration between the city and the county should be turned over to the Kent State University School of Public Health. They are already doing a study on a consolidation between Youngstown and Mahoning County, Canton and Stark County and Ravenna and Portage County. I have been told I will receive a letter to enter conversations with the city. And if we become one district that will mean we start from scratch with a new board and new staff. After I receive a letter from the city I will schedule a meeting. It could take a year to reach a conclusion," Misselwitz said.

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