There have been many anomalies in the operation of these
When government is the regulator and also a market participant, conflicts must be quickly identified and resolved. This is especially true if a formerly small entity begins to operate as a huge enterprise. There are several
Over ten years ago
In the early 1990’s
In the fall of 1999,
In 1999, a new mega-landfill called
Waste tonnage shortfalls resulted in the county having to raise several million dollars in taxes because of the 250-ton guarantee. Even lowering truckers’ dump fees did not ease this financial burden. While the county gets one dollar to $1.45 for each ton received, the county allowed their state permit disposal rate to be exceeded six fold per day so as to make more money in 2001.
County supervisors relied on the interpretation of their permit by a DEQ employee as allowing more waste than 250 tons per day. Later this same DEQ employee came to work at the Battle Creek Landfill. It is yet to be determined exactly how much this “put or pay” contract put the county into debt to make up for their trash shortfall.
Even though VADEQ notified the county of this violation in July 2001--that the county was taking in 371 tons per day--the Page County Board of Supervisors agreed to let a company dispose 1500 tons per day in December 2001. But on some specific days the intake rose well above the 1500 tons per day. The VADEQ then filed a formal notice in August 2002 against the county. In March of 2004, VADEQ closed this facility down by revoking
In the spring of 2004, National Waste Services declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Environmental Waste Services (EWS) is a subsidiary of NWS and is a privately owned company that purchased Tellurian Inc. EWS was formed solely to acquire the
All matters involving the company must receive approval from the court, including the county’s plans to build a temporary transfer station. Even though
For the last several years,
Who is Responsible?
As we continually witness in corporate
Another important cost is debt service, which represents the remaining debt for loans used to finance any landfill operation and its perpetual care.
Landfill tipping fees must be properly accounted for. Insuring sound landfill operations requires good bookkeeping, so that the generators, transporters, owners, and operators assume these costs as a factor of doing business. Notably, any governmental landfill operation should:
· Insure that there are sufficient reserves and a viable long-term business plan. When a local government enters into a “put or pay” contract they must fully understand their risks instead of just focusing on the benefits. Also, they must check the soundness of their financial viability through experts examining their fiscal validity.
· Promote cost accounting to assure their facility’s liabilities and assets are being addressed. How are these tipping fees being collected, and what obligation does the county have versus the landfill operator? Also, include costs for corrective actions and costs beyond the current 30-year conventional financial assurance period, and include them up front.
· Consider requiring independent third-party assessment and determination of the adequacy of current closure, post-closure, and corrective action financial assurance accounts by regulators, especially if they are directly or indirectly market participants.
Local government is ultimately responsible for any waste operations impact on public health and the environment. Privatization does not waive this obligation away from the public sector. Local governments are the last line of defense as advocates for their citizens. However, many rural counties see the host fees as a way to make up for many of their budget shortfalls in these lean times. Without developing good checks and balances, a locality can easily postpone this financial burden, and exacerbate a future mess for its citizens to clean-up.
November 1999: Losses at
January 2001: Intensity builds concerning county losses at
March 2001: Tellurian brings "third party" to negotiating table. Three-way talks begin on a buyout of Tellurian, one that would bring in a new landfill operator. Buyout contingent on upping tonnage limit from 250 per day to 1,500 per day.
July 2001: Concerns raised during negotiations for new landfill contract. Contract would up tonnage, allow for out-of-state waste and put landfill operator in charge of waste streams. First draft of contract includes clause for expansion. Citizens in Page and Shenandoah counties worry about increased truck traffic. Landfill opponents stage protest. Signs read "No Mega-Landfill."
July 2001: Third party in negotiations identified as Dover, Del.-based Environmental Waste Services Inc. (EWS). Company was formed solely to acquire
October 2001: In a 3-to-1 vote, with one abstention, the Page County Board of Supervisors approves new landfill contract. Tellurian sells operation to EWS. Deal calls for county to get a host fee of $1 to $1.50 per ton. Tonnage limit upped to 1,500 per day. EWS borrows $14 million from outside to finance the deal — $9 million for "acquisition."
December 2001: Landfill deal with EWS signed by county supervisors.
February 2002: New Battle Creek Landfill operators begin doing business as National Waste Services (NWS) of Virginia Inc.
August 2002: The Page County Farmers Association, along with other civic groups get more than 4,800 names, bypasses county officials and heads to Gov. Mark R. Warner and the DEQ in
September 2002: DEQ cites Battle Creek Landfill for exceeding its permitted tonnage. DEQ maintains current state permit, which is held by the county, limits tonnage to just 250 per day. Landfill taking in close to 1,200 per day.
July 2003: DEQ tells
August 2003: DEQ officials take
December 2003: Dwight Matthew Sours of
February 2004: NWS files an injunction to stop the county from implementing stricter regulations on trash haulers. Injunction is heard in Page Circuit Court. It is not granted. Haulers required to follow new regulations.
February 2004: County fines NWS $70,000 for breaking new hauling regulations. Twenty-eight trucks without proper decals dump trash.
March 2004: DEQ’s hearing on revoking
 Edward, Kieloch,” The Corrupt County” Citizens for a Better Page County Government, 2003 pg 37
 Ibid, page 38
 Page News and Courier,