Groups clear air about Rumpke plans

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 29, 2005

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP - Will the new neighbor be a good one or a bad one?

That was the debate Thursday evening during a public meeting in Hamilton Township.

Representatives of Rumpke Consolidated Industries, a Cincinnati-based recycling and solid waste company, organized the meeting to explain its plan to build a $3 million solid waste transfer and recycling station on 12 acres of a 30-acre tract of land adjacent to Duke Energy, along County Road 1A.

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But some residents in the area told company reps and local government and business leaders they don't want the facility in their neighborhood.

The public meeting is one step on the journey to obtain Ohio Environmental Protection Agency approval for the project.

Mark Rumpke, whose family has owned and operated the business for nearly 60 years, said the company has outgrown its facility in Ashland, Ky. Hedged in by AK Steel and several other businesses, there is no way to expand at that location.

Moving operations to Hamilton Township, where it would be centrally positioned among the Kentucky and Ohio counties it would serve, makes good business sense, he said. It would also bring new jobs.

"There would be 30 new positions created over the next three years," Rumpke said. "Also, 10 jobs would be moved from Ashland over to here."

The jobs range in wage from $8.50 an hour up to $20 an hour and includes benefits.

Plans call for a 315-foot long, 120-foot wide building that would have enclosed bays where solid waste would be brought in by smaller trucks and loaded onto larger trucks that would haul the garbage to local landfills. The facility would also have an enclosed area where recyclable materials, such as plastic jugs and bottles, aluminum cans and newspapers, would be collected and shipped to companies that would turn it unto reusable products. The Hamilton facility would also house administrative offices and mechanics quarters. It is anticipated that the facility would process 25-30 tons of recyclables daily and 500 tons of solid waste monthly.

"We want to be good neighbors," Rumpke said. "We want to do the right thing."

But some residents said they thought the land could better used for another industrial plant such as Duke or Dow Chemical, not a solid waste transfer and recycling station. Others said they feared the onslaught of rats, litter along the roadways and the strong smells associated with the bulk of garbage that would be hauled in and out daily.

Bill Goff, who lives on County Road 1A, asked why this site was chosen.

"Scioto and Boyd counties appear to be the biggest customers," according to your pie chart (showing where the waste would come from). Why not locate it there?… Why not The Point (industrial park)?"

"We looked at that site,"

Steve Sargent, Rumpke Corporate Director of Recycling, said. "In fact David Jones (who owns the land at the Ashland facility) took us over there several times. But this is a better location."

Goff said he feared there would be issues with blowing trash, rats and odor.

"It's going to be all enclosed, " Rumpke Director of Engineering, said. "The EPA doesn't require this. …The waste will be removed quickly. Garbage smells, no doubt. If you leave garbage under the kitchen sink long enough, it smells. But that's why we're required to be 250 feet away from houses."

Company officials also denied they would be taking in trash from New York, New Jersey or other states outside the Tri-State. They also stressed that rumors of their bringing solid waste in on railway cars is also untrue. They stressed the property does not have a rail spur.

Chuck Yaniko, Lawrence-Scioto County Solid Waste District Coordinator, said those who fear blowing trash and smell should go and look at the Ashland facility, which sits almost across U.S. 23 from Golden Corral restaurant.

"You go over there to eat, you don't see trash blowing along the road. This is not a landfill," Yaniko said.

One man in the audience, who spoke several times but refused to identify himself, said he resented the fact that area residents' sentiments were not considered when the decision was made to locate in that area. He said most of his neighbors were against the facility and were upset they weren't consulted about it.

"This has been a waste of my evening," the man said. "What about property values? No one asked us what we think, what neighbors think."

Some in the audience said they welcomed Rumpke and its plans. Cecil Townsend, who owns property near the site, said he could not understand the opposition.

"I was raised up near here," Townsend said. "I can't believe you people want to deny 30 families a job."

Ohio EPA District Engineer Craig Walkenspaw pointed out the facility would be inspected quarterly and its license would be up for renewal yearly, meaning any problems local residents have could be addressed in a timely manner.

If the permit process goes well, the station could be in operation by next summer.