State accepting bids on landfill

Regional district-owned Mountain Home site to be closed

The Arkansas Building Authority is accepting bids for the closing of the North Arkansas Board of Regional Sanitation landfill in Mountain Home. The financially troubled site has been run by the Department of Environmental Quality in recent years, despite the fact that a regional solid waste district owns it.

The site, known as the NABORS landfill, hasn't accepted trash since November 2012 after the Ozark Mountain Regional Solid Waste District's board voted to default on a $12.3 million bond issue from Bank of the Ozarks that allowed it to purchase the landfill. Accepting trash was the landfill's only source of revenue.

In August 2014, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality released a $138,730 recycling grant early to the district for hauling leachate from the landfill after the district said it ran out of money. Leachate is water that has passed through the trash. Department inspections indicated that leachate had leaked several times in the past few years.

The department has since operated the landfill and hauled leachate from it using funds that the district put up in financial assurance, about $1.7 million. Those funds were intended in the permit to be for the closure of the landfill.

"It's quite a mess," said Tim McKinney, mayor of Berryville.

McKinney serves on the board of directors for the Ozark Mountain Regional Solid Waste District. He said the district board has rejected offers from private companies to take over the landfill and that voters in a municipality rejected taking over the landfill, prompting the district to place the landfill in receivership with the Department of Environmental Quality.

Since 2012, changes in state law helped the department start the process of closing the landfill, and the department has worked with engineering firms on the scope of the project.

Bids will be accepted until 2 p.m. Sept. 13, but prospective contractors must attend a pre-bid conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday at 1320 Landfill Road in Mountain Home.

The design professional for the project is SCS Aquaterra of Overland Park, Kan.

"We look forward to helping that community address a long-standing issue that they have," Environmental Quality Department Director Becky Keogh said.

Keogh said the department has received estimates on the cost of the project that range from $13 million to $18 million, but she noted that the $18 million estimate was based on an old plan to close the landfill. She said she doesn't think the cost will be that high.

The department will finance the project using landfill post-closure trust funds but not likely until fiscal 2018, which begins July 1. The trust fund had $17.4 million in it Friday, department spokesman Kelly Robinson said, and C&L Landfill in Fayetteville is the only current user of it. C&L's project, which began in 2015, is authorized to spend up to $3.4 million.

A state law passed last year also allows the fund to now be used to clear up scrap tire dumps, and the department has said it intends to spend up to $1 million of it to manage the DAMCO waste tire processing facility that is overcapacity at 1 million tires.

That facility is next to the NABORS landfill in Mountain Home and has a contract with the Ozark Mountain Regional Solid Waste District for processing waste tires.

Metro on 08/29/2016