Landfill board discusses developments

Members of the North Central Regional Solid Waste Agency board were updated on the recent Iowa Department of Natural Resources referral during their regular meeting Tuesday night in the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance building.

The referral came after the previous landfill director, Deb Watson, who was terminated in September 2013, had allegedly ignored four years of Iowa DNR notifications that there were violations in the landfill operations.

According to board member Mark Campbell, the board learned of the violations when several representatives of the DNR attended the board meeting in April.

“They were there to let us know they’d been sending letters for four years,” he said.

The DNR then referred the violations to the Environmental Protection Agency commission

Steve Kersten, legal council to the board, said that he and several board members had met with the Environmental Protection Agency commission on Sept. 17, 2013, to discuss the violations He said they included a failure to complete a permit renewal in January 2011.

Kersten said that after the meeting with the EPA, it chose to refer the matter to the U.S. attorney general’s office. The next step, he said, is enforcement action by the attorney general’s office.

That will take the form of a consent order, Kersten said. That can include admission by the board that there were mistakes made in the landfill operations, corrective action to be taken and in most cases, a fine.

“We have no idea what they’ll ask for a fine,” he said.

He said that a consent order is a negotiated court action, both sides meet and try to work it out.

“We will do our best to work out a reasonable resolution,” Kersten said.

Interim landfill Director Cindy Turkle acknowledged that there had been problems in the past.

“Most the violations were paper violations,” she said. “There were also significant operations violations.”

She stressed that since new staff has been hired, the landfill is now in full compliance with DNR regulations.

Campbell stressed that he wants to see the issue resolved.

“Our whole goal is to move forward,” he said. “From where we were to where we are now, we’ve come a long way.”

The full board was not able to take action on any agenda items Tuesday. Nineteen members were present. In order to vote on agenda items, a quorum of 22 is required of the 43 member board.

The executive board, which also met Tuesday, was able to take action on several items including approving a pay request from Rasch Construction in the amount of $120,501.96 for completion of the recently installed leachate collection system.

The board also recommended the 2015 budget be approved by the full board with a 2.5 percent cost of living increase for landfill employees.

Turkle also asked the board to consider the purchase of a pickup truck and the hiring of an equipment operator and a recycling truck driver. The board approved seeking bids for the truck and forming a committee to hire the personnel.

The board also recommended a transition to Northwest Bank as the landfill’s primary financial institution. The current financial institution, First American Bank, would remain as an option.

The full board will meet again on Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m. The executive board will meet at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be at the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance building, 24 N. Ninth St.