DEP Tentatively OKs Permit; Rell Budget Requests $15 Million For Capping Costs
February 8, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
The regional trash authority and the city have released the details of an agreement that could resolve a longstanding dispute over who will pay the $35.5 million needed to close and then monitor the authority's landfill in Hartford's North Meadows.
The agreement - signed by Mayor Eddie A. Perez and Thomas D. Kirk, the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority president - unifies the city and the CRRA in efforts to secure state permits to keep the landfill open until 2008, and to get $15 million in state money to then close the facility.
Should the two sides get the permit and the money, the city would be absolved of all costs associated with closing and maintaining the landfill. Hartford would also get $2 million in additional benefits.
"This is good news for everybody," Paul Nonnenmacher, director of public relations for the CRRA, said Wednesday.
As a result of the agreement, officials from the Department of Environmental Protection said they have already taken steps toward approving the CRRA's permit, issuing a tentative approval pending a 30-day public comment period. If issued, the permit would give the CRRA the right to add about 250,000 tons of trash to the landfill and keep the facility open until December 2008.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell has also included $15 million for the landfill closing costs in her state budget proposal, though final approval of that amount rests with the state legislature and the State Bond Commission.
The CRRA and the city, which owns the 96 acres under the landfill and has leased the site to the regional trash authority since 1982, have fought for years over who pays to close the landfill and, for the next 30 years, monitor its environmental impact.
The CRRA contended that Hartford is responsible because it owns the land. But the city disagreed, saying the regional authority and the 70 towns that deliver trash to Hartford each day should cover the cost.
To close the landfill, the trash authority must place a synthetic cap over the mounds of refuse on the property - a cost estimated by the CRRA at $23.5 million. The land must also be monitored for three decades, at an estimated cost of $12 million.
If all conditions of the agreement are met, the city will get a benefits package from the CRRA of $2 million - the money to go toward reducing diesel emissions, promoting recycling in Hartford and finding ways to use the property after the landfill is closed.
With $150,000 of that money, the CRRA agreed to retrofit 17 pieces of diesel equipment, such as a front-end loader, bulldozer and excavator, to lower its air pollution emissions. The authority will also reimburse the city $200,000 to retrofit 27 diesel trucks that Hartford uses to haul trash or recyclables.
The authority - which already gives the city $100,000 a year to promote recycling - has also agreed to give Hartford an additional $50,000 a year through 2013. This money, along with the $425,000 balance the city already has from the CRRA, will then be used to promote and increase recycling efforts in Hartford.
The CRRA has offered to help the city, once the landfill is closed, establish an advisory committee to study possible uses for the land, such as bike and hiking trails, a fenced-in dog park, bird observation posts, basketball courts or a skateboard park.
In addition, $250,000 will be used to develop a pilot program to encourage recycling at multi-family dwellings and larger apartment complexes, which historically have very low recycling rates, officials said.
And the CRRA will give the city $1 million for programs connected to the reuse of the landfill or improving recycling in Hartford.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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