Accomack County Landfill: A Cautionary Public Works Tale

A Delmarva Now article (2016-06-10) highlighted a public works pitfall that counties should be wary of – running out of time to make a vital public works upgrade because of consultant delays and the time it takes to obtain necessary state and federal permits. The article recounted the challenge Accomack County, Virginia, now faces due to state delays in approving a needed landfill capacity upgrade. The county is now considering the expensive prospect of having to haul waste to an outside location, at an estimated cost of $1,000 per day because the landfill will be full by the end of this year. From the article:

The county started work on the landfill expansion project back in 2012, “which by all indicators should have been plenty of time,” [Accomack County Director of Public Works Stewart] Hall said.

But there were difficulties working with a consultant on the design. “We’ve also experienced some delays on DEQ’s (Virginia Department of Environmental Quality) side,” he said.

The county was told in 2012 that, in a worst-case scenario, it would take up to a year for DEQ to act on the application.

Accomack submitted its completed application — the documents filled up “a pretty decent-sized box,” Hall said — the first week of February 2015.

“Now, here we are in May of 2016…and we’re being told it could take an additional three months to get permit in hand,” Hall said. …

“This delay is not attributed to our staff,” said Supervisor Robert Crockett, adding, “We thought everything was there and there were no questions, and all of a sudden at the very end, they starting popping up with some questions, which has extended this project.”

The article indicated that Accomack initially approached the three southern Eastern Shore counties in Maryland about accepting some of Accomack’s trash but after all three rejected the outreach, instead is looking at trucking some of the County’s waste to a Hampton landfill 112-miles away roundtrip instead. The first month of transport could be covered by the county’s landfill enterprise fund but after that the public works department would need to request additional county funding.