Residents urge officials to pull Foxhole from ReVenture options
Hundreds of Union County residents gathered at Elon Park Elementary School Monday, May 16, to protest any proposal that would dump residential waste into the nearby Foxhole landfill, which currently only accepts construction and demolition debris.
The county’s current contract sending waste to the Speedway landfill in Cabarrus County ends June 30, 2012, and the Board of County Commissioners recently approved a $15 million expansion to Foxhole, making Foxhole an option for residential waste if the Speedway contract isn’t extended.
Bruce Gledhill, the country’s director of solid waste services, said the county began with three options: signing a new contract with Speedway, expanding Foxhole and accepting residential waste in July 2012 or approving the ReVenture project, a gasification plant proposed near the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
The county has received proposals from Speedway, which, officials say, means Foxhole will not be used for residential waste in 2012. Despite the proposals, there is no signed contract. Residents claim that, thanks to the expansion, Foxhole could end up back on the table if the county can’t reach an agreement with Speedway.
“I have a proposal for one year, and I have a five-year proposal,” Gledhill said of negotiations with the Concord landfill. “Mecklenburg County is interested in preserving all of the options, including the one-year option, which works in concert with the ReVenture project.”
Gledhill also defended the commissioners’ vote to expand Foxhole whether ReVenture happens or not, because the county will need the additional capacity.
“The capacity will be used,” Gledhill said. “It’s a very, very good investment. Construction prices are low and we couldn’t buy the capacity at a better time.”
The Foxhole landfill has approximately five years’ capacity remaining, but Gledhill said operating the landfill without an expansion would become “very difficult in the last couple of years.”
If county commissioners approve the 20-year ReVenture project, Foxhole could end up accepting approximately 70,000 tons of ash generated by the facility each year.
“(ReVenture) is a processing facility that removes significant amounts of recyclables to help Mecklenburg County achieve our waste reduction and recycling goals,” Gledhill said. “The facility will prepare the rest of the waste to go to a waste-energy facility. From the waste-energy facility, non-hazardous ash would go to a landfill.”
Foxhole is located off U.S. 521/Lancaster Hwy., near Elon Park, Ardrey Kell High School and several residential neighborhoods, leaving residents concerned about air quality, traffic and home values if the ash comes into the landfill.
“(ReVenture) may be a long-term solution, but the continued emphasis on our little acreage down here is not a long-term solution,” Steven Rush, a member of the Foxhole Advisory Council, said. “We want to get Foxhole off the ReVenture application because that is the scary part of this whole equation.”
Residents voiced concerns about the ReVenture gasification process, which they say is untested and could generate hazardous materials. Gledhill said his department is looking into the process.
“We do have some concerns (about the ReVenture project),” Gledhill said. “We’re conducting an independent review of the technology and the timetable, and we will not support the project until the results of that study are in.”
The department expects to have the results of the study by the end of August, and the commissioners must make a decision by October.
“Our 50-year goal is zero waste,” Jennifer Roberts, chair of the Board of County Commissioners, said. “I absolutely don’t want to be dealing with landfills 10 years from now, so I hope we can figure out other options … We are working to be sure we have viable, environmentally-safe, long-term options.”