WHEELING - Landfills have never been very popular places, and while some say "not in my backyard," waste needs to go somewhere.
Four locations in the Ohio Valley still take municipal waste - one in Ohio and three in West Virginia. Those in the Northern Panhandle are the Brooke/Valero Landfill in Brooke County, Short Creek Landfill in Ohio County and the Wetzel County Landfill, while the giant Apex Sanitary Landfill grows larger in Harrison/Jefferson counties.
Due to differences in state regulations, landfills in West Virginia and Ohio operate differently.
One example is that Ohio landfills typically have a much lower tipping fee - a dollar amount per ton for debris being dumped - than those in West Virginia.
The West Virginia Solid Waste Management Board 2011 plan said in 2009, the average tipping fee for all Mountain State landfills was about $46 per ton. Meanwhile, a report from the Ohio Solid Waste Management Division in 2009 showed about $35 per ton.
Locally, the Ohio 2009 report showed that the Apex tipping fee was about $25 per ton, while a the Short Creek Landfill in 2009 charged $35 per ton.
What is the state of the area's landfills?
Four area locations continue to take residential waste, three in West Virginia and one in Ohio. Each landfill must meet state and federal regulations in how they handle waste. Also, e-recycling has become much more complicated due to concerns with mercury and other items found in electronics.
The most recent report, the 2009 Ohio Facility Data Report Tables, shows that Apex brought in about 1.4 million tons of residential waste from out-of-state locations, while tonnage within Ohio was merely about 70,000.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Linda Oros said the Apex landfill does this because of close proximity to out-of-state sources and its extensive rail system which can access waste being moved by train.
Kevin Shoemaker, planner for the Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management, said that most of what goes into the Apex Landfill comes from New York City.
West Virginia landfill numbers show a different story. The West Virginia Solid Waste Management Board 2011 plan shows significantly more in-state waste goes into Short Creek and Wetzel County landfills. The Brooke/Valero site is one of a few Mountain State landfills that brings in more out-of-state waste.
Overall, only 13.7 percent of waste in West Virginia comes from across state lines.
All landfills in the Ohio Valley are privately owned, and only the city of Wheeling has municipal trash pick-up. The last public owned landfills were the Moundsville Landfill in Marshall County and North Park Landfill in Ohio County.
Howard Coffield, board member for the Solid Waste Authority in Marshall County, said the Moundsville Landfill has been closed for more than 20 years but is currently being "capped" - a procedure for safe closure requiring ongoing investigation, design and construction.
A landfill is "a good moneymaker, but a pain in the butt as well," he said, referring to maintenance difficulty and the more than $3.4 million required for closure.
North Park Landfill will be capped in 2012 at a cost of more than $3 million, according to the 2011 West Virginia Solid Waste Management Board 2011 plan.
Without a landfill, Coffield said Marshall County waste either goes to the Wetzel County Landfill or to Short Creek.
Ohio County Solid Waste Authority Director Tammy Bonar said Short Creek takes all county waste. Also, Weirton City Manager Gary DuFour said his city's waste is disposed of at a landfill in Pennsylvania.
One landfill in Ohio no longer operates due to numerous Ohio EPA violations. The Fernwood Road facility owned by C&D Disposal Technologies of Wintersville was accused in 2010 of allegedly accepting solid waste while licensed as a construction and demolition debris facility, as well as 12 other violations, according to a release from the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
The Jefferson County Board of Health revoked C&D's conditional license for 2010 and denied its application in 2011.
A new regulation took place in the Mountain State at the beginning of this year. Landfills will no longer accept electronic devices with screens larger than four inches. Cities can either not accept the e-waste or determine a special type of pickup.
Marshall County, for example, will conduct two pickup days per year while city of Wheeling waste crews simply will not take electronics, prompting residents to find their own way to get rid of them.
The National Center for Electronics Recycling in Parkersburg, W.Va., maintains a listing of local and national recycling programs on its website, www.electronicsrecycling.org.
A similar regulation is under consideration in Ohio. According to Oros, a bill was proposed during the last House session, but she does not know whether it will move forward.