Santek competitor: Closing Loudon landfill will cost $30M

Hugh G. Willett

LOUDON — Closing the Matlock Bend Landfill could cost as much as $1 million per year for 30 years, a waste disposal industry representative told the Loudon County Solid Waste Disposal Commission on Tuesday.

“You are looking at $30 million for closure,” said Doug McGill, municipal marketing manager for Waste Connections Inc., which is a competitor of Santek Waste Management, the company that currently runs the landfill.

McGill said his company, which manages about 50 landfills, had ideas that might help generate more revenue for closure and post-closure costs and would respond to a request for a proposal should the panel be interested.

County Commissioner Sharon Yarbrough said she had not realized closure costs might run that high. She said she was interested in learning more about revenue generating programs such as those described by McGill.

A 2012 Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation estimated it would take a total of $8 million to close the facility.

Steve Field, who also sits on the solid waste panel, disputed the $30 million figure but did not offer another estimate.

The commission recently acknowledged that at the current rate of accrual, there will not be enough money saved to handle closure and post closure costs. Officials have been working with Cleveland, Tenn.-based Santek to try to reduce the closing costs by closing some sections of the landfill before the entire facility closes around 2034.

Commissioners have also been working with the Loudon County Trustees Office to look for a better return on investment from the money already collected for closure. The money is currently in a county “checking account” drawing 0.10 percent interest per year.

Commission attorney Kevin Stevens told the board Tuesday night that for six years the county has basically been receiving a negative return on its investment.

“Failure of funds to keep up with inflation is what caused the shortage,” he said.

Yarbrough, who said she was surprised to learn that the county was getting no return on the investment, suggested the County Commission get “periodic updates” on the actions of the Solid Waste Commission.