By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
It wasn’t that long ago that landfills were unregulated piles of garbage. And in Wood County, nearly every town and township had one. Items that weren’t dumped were often burned in backyards.
As the Wood County Commissioners toured the county landfill last month, they were reminded how those days were long gone.
“It’s just not a hole in the ground anymore,” said Ken Vollmar, head of landfill operations, as he drove the commissioners on their annual tour of the facility that opened west of Bowling Green in 1972.
The bottom of the landfill has an EPA-approved liner, and once an area is full, it gets an EPA-approved cover. Methane gas is monitored with a series of wells, and leachate is captured so it doesn’t move off site.
Wood County is fortunate to have its own landfill, Vollmar said.
“You can keep prices competitive,” he said. If the county didn’t have its own facility, the private landfills would be able to bump up their prices. “We keep them in check for Wood County citizens.”
For a period of nearly 15 years, the Wood County Landfill averaged about 35,000 tons a year taken in. Then Henry County closed its facility, and for three years, Wood County Landfill took in about 48,000 tons a year. Last year, that tonnage jumped to 58,000.
But Wood County doesn’t need to worry about outgrowing its landfill space anytime soon, Vollmar said. The current footprint being used is 43 acres, reaching almost 100 feet high. That footprint is expected to last another six to seven years. In addition to that area, the county also owns 80 acres to the west, 80 acres to the north, and another 40 acres to the northeast.
The landfill is in the process of getting a permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to expand to the north acreage. That will give the county another 100 to 132 years of landfill space.
As Vollmar drove the commissioners on their tour, he pointed out a major improvement at the landfill. For years, the facility has used “bull fences” to provide litter control in the areas where trash is currently being dumped. On last year’s tour, the commissioners noted that the fences were thick with plastic bags blown from the trash being dumped.
But now the landfill has a new piece of equipment that sucks the plastic bags off the fences.
“It’s an animal,” Vollmar said.
Vollmar pointed out the brush pile, which the landfill staff turns into a mulch pile, which is then sold to the public for $25 a ton.
“It’s going like crazy,” Vollmar said.
Vollmar showed the landfill sedimentation basins, which collect runoff from the trash mounds that can then be reused for dust control.
He pointed out mountains of concrete from various construction projects – the Vehtek construction project, a BGSU parking lot demolition, and the Interstate 75 overpass destruction. Asphalt and concrete are crushed up to make a road base so trucks don’t get stuck going up or down the landfill.
“It makes a lot of difference to the haulers,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said.
Piles of soil are also accepted for future use, Vollmar said.
“We use every bit of dirt we can for covering garbage,” he said.