SPSA Entering Landfill Market Despite Threat of Lawsuit

Chesapeake -- Virginia's Southeastern Public Service Authority has decided to accept construction and demolition (C&D) debris at its landfill despite threats of a lawsuit from private sector operators over the landfill's disposal rates. According to the Hampton Roads Pilot newspaper, SPSA's move to accept C&D waste for $6.50 per cubic yard should generate $1 million per year for the agency. SPSA also said it would help haul debris at $610 per truckload from a transfer station in Norfolk, Va.

Yet approximately one month ago, a local businessman disclosed that SPSA had been accepting C&D waste for nearly a year through contracts that were illegal because they were not publicly reviewed or approved. The contracts with four local waste companies included a disposal fee of $6.50 per cubic yard fee, which translates to $13 per ton to $32 per ton, although SPSA's publicly advertised rate was $58 per ton, according to the Hampton Roads Pilot..

According to the newspaper, John C. Holland Jr., who owns the South Hampton Roads landfill, says the $6.50 fee was below market prices and will undercut competition. He plans to fight SPSA's decision, and may sue the agency.

John Hadfield, SPSA's executive director, has admitted that he "goofed" in signing the four contracts without obtaining approval in a public forum, but told the paper that the new move "sets a fair rate that everyone can use." He says SPSA's desire to accept C&D debris is a temporary practice that is designed to take advantage of space in one area of the landfil that will be closed shortly.

However, SPSA's critics say C&D debris has been dumped in active sections of the landfill that should have been used for municipal solid waste, not industrial waste. SPSA has denied dumping industrial waste, although it conceded that a "temporary driver" used the active section of the landfill on previous trips to dispose of C&D debris. According to the paper, SPSA said it will more closely monitor the site in the future.