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Water contaminated near dump?

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

With the help of prison inmates county officials last week analyzed garbage taken to the Three Mile Canyon landfill in an attempt to determine the source of water contamination in that area of Summit County.

"We actually went through and took materials out of some of the trucks that came in and did a materials analysis," said Kevin Callahan, the administrator for Summit County Public Works. "The kinds of materials that we are putting in there are not horrible We are not in a dire situation by any means."

By analyzing water from different aquifers in the area, however, the county could determine whether garbage from homeowners is the source of contamination, he added.

"There is sort of this cloud that has been hanging over us for the last three or four years from the state," Callahan said. "If there is some ambiguity, the burden is going to be on the county."

Water at the landfill near Wanship has been tested for different "volatile organic compounds," he said, adding that for $4,000 the county could test more thoroughly for water contamination at the dump.

"The numbers kind of bounce around all over the place and it’s very difficult to determine whether we have a contamination problem or not," Callahan said. "We’ve had some challenges with our water quality monitoring."

Meanwhile, by knowing what people in Summit County throw away, officials can better plan to extend the life of the landfill through recycling.

The Summit County Commission is mulling bids for a curbside-recycling contract submitted by Allied Waste Services and County Curbside.

"We’re trying to figure out what the best program for our county is in terms of managing our landfills, what we can do to minimize our solid waste and how we handle hazardous waste," Callahan said.

But the more pressing issue facing Summit County’s solid waste officials is who will pick up residents’ garbage for the next five years.

Unable to decide whether Summit County should begin hauling trash, discussions continue with Allied Waste Services, which is the only private hauler that responded to a request for bids from the government.

Allied Waste’s current trash-hauling contract with Summit County is slated to end next summer leaving the County Commission in a crunch to decide whether to continue cooperating with the hauler known formerly as BFI.

"We’re at the point where we can wrap up the hauling issues and the recycling issues," Callahan said.

But commissioners weren’t sure this week how much it would cost taxpayers for the county to began hauling trash. Its costs the county roughly $1 million per year for Allied Waste to pick up garbage from homes and businesses.

"We think that we can either secure a reasonable cost from [Allied Waste] or find a way to do it at a reasonable cost," Callahan said.

Park City Public Works Director Jerry Gibbs has questioned the county’s motives for entering the trash business.

"What’s the real driving factor?" Gibbs asked. "I just haven’t heard what the real driving force is."

The level of service could decrease if the county takes on the responsibilities, according to Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer.

The County Commission expects to debate the issue and possibly vote on a new contract Dec. 20.


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