R-board expected to toss alternative trash ideas
The search for alternative ways of disposing of trash at the regional landfill will likely be cut short before the effort ever truly started again.
A surprise announcement by a Stafford Board of Supervisors member Tuesday indicated the governing board for the landfill is backing off in its search because it was not receiving beneficial proposals.
The Rappahannock Regional Solid Waste Management Board, a six-member body that oversees the landfill that serves Stafford and Fredericksburg, sent out bid requests for the alternative trash disposal methods several months ago. Supporters saw the project as a way to extend the life of the landfill by disposing of trash in a more environmentally-friendly way other than letting trash decompose in the ground.
Supervisor Paul Milde, who is also the R-Board chairman, said that the four proposals that the R-Board received weren’t beneficial to Stafford County.
And after having one-on-one meetings with Stafford and Fredericksburg representatives on the R-Board, Milde said he expects the R-Board will decide to reject all the proposals and discontinue its search at its meeting today.
“None of the proposals were even revenue neutral, they would all require new funding,” Milde later said.
With the R-Board still trying to solve an operational deficit and also trying to find $4 million to fund more landfill space, providing money for an additional operation wasn’t an option.
Milde blamed those opposed to some waste disposal methods for the shortage of good proposals.
“We now have no attractive options available to us, not because our situation has improved, but because of misinformation and fear that has disseminated about the best options available to us,” Milde said during his public comment period.
Those opponents, meanwhile, claimed victory.
“WE, everyone in Stafford, WON!” Bill Johnson, who has pushed against some trash disposal methods, wrote in an email to supporters after Milde’s announcement.
Johnson has criticized the way the R-Board set up the bid, claiming that it paved the way for certain waste-to-energy solutions that weren’t healthy or environmentally sound.
It is the second time that this search by the R-Board has run into roadblocks. Last year, the R-Board and Stafford supervisors came under fire for a lack of transparency in their consideration of a proposal that would have converted waste into energy. The county ended up reneging on a contract with Energy Extraction LLC’s after residents questioned the company’s use of tires in its potential $73 million privately funded facility at the landfill.
When the R-Board rebooted the search again this year, their request for proposals required more information upfront, such as an environmental review and test results from their proposed process. The environmental review would have cost the bidder an estimated $200,000.
Milde seemed to not rule out a third reboot of the process.
“It is my hope that in rejecting these recent proposals we will commence a more welcoming process that will allow a sensible discussion based on science instead of fear and facts instead of demagoguery,” Milde said.
Johnson hoped that the rejection of these proposals meant that the R-Board would consider other solutions such as raising fees on trash haulers, charging residents to dump trash or diverting trash at the landfill in a zero-waste solution.
But the zero-waste proposal hasn’t found much favor with some R-Board members, including Milde.
“And make no mistake about it: dismissing new and innovative solutions in favor of zero waste and other costly plans in this case is the equivalent of doing nothing,” Milde said.
Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975