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Haywood moves forward with landfill remediation

Work is underway on a multi-million-dollar environmental remediation project on the Old Francis Farm landfill near Waynesville. The first load of dirt was dumped Oct. 7, and on Oct. 6 Haywood County Commissioners approved a $44,500 contract for McGill Associates Engineering to do construction, landfill permitting and stockpile design for the fill dirt.

“It’s been a whirlwind of work from our side, the engineers’ side, and the N.C. DOT,” David Francis, the county’s tax administrator, told commissioners.

The landfill, which was built in the 1970s, was constructed under looser environmental regulations than are in place today. Since closing, the county has been plagued with issues of methane seepage and water contamination to adjacent properties. 

Now, the county is working to construct a new cap on top of the old landfill to keep rainwater from leaching through the stored waste and out into the surrounding ground. In August, it purchased a property adjacent to the landfill that had been contaminated and will use that area to store the 100,000 cubic feet of soil it will take to construct the cap. 

Buying the soil outright would have cost $1.35 million, but nearby road construction to build a new interchange at N.C. 209 and U.S. 74/23 allowed them to get the material for only the price of hauling it, $390,000. If the problem were to go unremedied, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources could fine the county as much as $30,000 per day. 

The county expects that addressing issues with the landfill will cost them plenty more dollars before it’s all done, likely at least $5 million. 

“It’s still going to be a considerable cost, but we didn’t have any choice in that,” said Commission Chairman Mark Swanger. 

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