Landfill still in works

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Representatives of New York-based Chartwell International were at the site of a proposed Washington Township mining operation and landfill Tuesday to try to inform local business leaders and residents about their project, but some of the site’s neighbors remain unconvinced.

Regardless of the complaints, many still tout the economic impact that the project could have on the area, which could possibly have hundreds of new jobs as a result of the operation.

The former site of Bellville Mining, on Brady Creek Road near Blackfork, was purchased by Chartwell earlier last year. The mine would take limestone, clay and coal out of the land, which would leave plenty of room for dumping waste transported largely from out-of-state.

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The 8,000-acre plot of land could still be fertile territory for mining. Chartwell spokesman Dick Ellison said that there was an estimated 10 million tons of coal that could be mined, with similar amounts of lime and clay.

Ellison said that the landfill would accept both construction and demolition (C&D) debris and household, or solid waste. They emphasized that no medical or hazardous waste would be accepted.

Perhaps anticipating local hesitance towards a landfill in the area, Ellison said that there were no homes in site, and that the landfill would be “of no real bother to anyone.”

“It will all be done according to the regulations, we’ll meet with you folks, we’ll meet with the neighbors, we’ll find out what their interests are,” Ellison said. “If we can mitigate their concerns, we’ll mitigate them, and where we can’t we’ll do something that’s in the best interests of everybody.”

That explanation doesn’t fly for Andrew Horner. He owns 60 acres adjacent to the property, and he said that much of his water was ruined by previous mining operations that left sulfur in the water.

He was also concerned about the transport of waste via railroads through his property, though Chartwell representatives said that it would be stored in watertight containers.

“I’m going to be able to pick up a rock and throw it and hit the trains,” Horner said. “I’m really concerned and I hate to see it come, and everybody I know that owns homes around here doesn’t want to see it, because the mining ruins the well water and the ponds.”

According to Chartwell, concern about a leak from the landfill portion of the property aren’t well-founded, as the plastic and clay liners used to protect the ground have proven to be very effective.

“If you do a statistical analysis, the chances of your clay having a failure and your plastic having a failure at the same place are like the chance of getting struck by a meteor,” Ellison said.

Ellison said that for those who are further from the site, the operation could also mean many new jobs, approximately 100 for the mining operation and more for the landfill.

“It’s early, so it’s difficult to anticipate, but the landfill could be in the 50 to 75 employee range,” Ellison said. “And in general you could anticipate one support job being created for each of these new jobs.”

Locals could also get a side-benefit as they’ll be allowed to use the dump for their trash too.

Representatives of Chartwell emphasize that the project is still in the development stages. Although some of the mining permits could be obtained within the year, the landfill permit could take years to get.

“So far things are looking pretty good,” Ellison said. “But there’s a lot to do yet.”