Landfill records in Pasquotank County conceal true origin of demolition debris
PASQUOTANK COUNTY — On or about Aug 20 of this year, James Morris, a frequent critic of the Pasquotank County Solid Waste operations, received a call from a local citizen of adjacent Perquimans County that a house in that county was being demolished
However, instead of the debris being hauled and dumped at a landfill operated by Perquimans,
debris from the house diverted to the landfill of Pasquotank County – an unusual practice but not one prohibited by any local, state, or federal regulations.
Morris went to the site and observed that the contractor performing the work was Stevenson Sand.
Stevenson Sand operates a multi-faceted business. In addition to privately hired demolition work – like that done in Perquimans County — the firm is also paid by Pasquotank County to maintain a section of that county’s landfill designed to receive construction and demolition debris – commonly known as C & D waste.
Morris and others have pointed out an inherent conflict of interest to this practice – Stevenson Sand dumps at the Pasquotank landfill, and pays a fee to do so; yet the firm is under contract to maintain a section of the Pasquotank landfill, and earns a fee to do so.
Don’t blame the hauler! Transporting waste that originates in Perquimans to adjacent Pasquotank makes economic sense. Since 2008, the Pasquotank County Commissioners have offered a discounted rate of $50 per ton compared to the $68 per ton charged by Perquimans!
Obviously, Stevenson Sand was well aware of this discrepancy, as was the Pasquotank County Solid Waste Director and the Pasquotank County Manager. Some observers believe the lower $50 per ton rate has been a net loser for the county, despite higher waste volumes spurred by Pasquotank’s reputation as the region’s lowest cost per ton landfill.
Morris (the landfill critic) requested copies of scale tickets for Aug 20 and later for Aug 21 in order to verify how much demolition waste had been brought to the landfill from Perquimans.
These public documents have recently been called into question. Whether by mistake, or intentionally, scale tickets in more than one instance conceal the true origin of demolition debris.
Ticket number 302643 states that the hauler is Stevenson Sand and the refuse class is C&D. It states that the debris originated in Elizabeth City and in the comments section it refers to Ballahack Rd and a driver named Donnie. However, there is no Ballahack Road in Pasquotank County.
A subsequent ticket, number 302645, again shows Ballahack Road as the point of origin, but there is no Ballahack Road in Pasquotank County.
Pasquotank County Solid Waste Director, Mike Etheridge, has previously said that closing of the landfill is being considered in the near future. So why are the county’s Solid Waste Committee and its Director still accepting out-of-county demolition debris, at what many perceive to be ‘below-market’ rates?
In today’s world, one would think that additional debris, especially waste from outside Pasquotank, would be discouraged so as not to unduly hasten the closing of this landfill?
The scale tickets are the latest in a long line of sloppy and incomplete record keeping as well as mismanagement by the Solid Waste Department and its employees. We have documented that our landfill does not sell recyclable materials at full value nor separate these materials. The glass, plastics and cardboard are all commingled then sold at a fraction of their full value.
With all the experience that Director Mike Etheridge has, one would expect that he would know how to maximize the resale value of recyclables – assuming he wanted to do so.
To summarize, consider the following:
- Stevenson Sand demolished a house in Perquimans County and hauled the debris to the Pasquotank County landfill. This is a legal, allowable practice.
- The contractor was charged $50 per ton to dump in Pasquotank, not the $68 per ton that Perquimans County would have charged.
- Pasquotank scale tickets for the trucks hauling this material were completed correctly.
- These scale tickets conceal the true origin of waste received at the Pasquotank County landfill. Ballahack Road is a Perquimans County location – no such road exists in Pasquotank County.
- Stevenson Sand has a conflict of interest, which is clearly understood by Pasquotank County officials.
It should be noted that written requests have been made to the County Manager to provide documentation that the Commissioners voted to accept the recommendation that the County agree to a lower rate for dumping and to accept demolition debris from other counties.
Manager Bunch provided a document that contained this item as a suggestion, but this document was NOT an agenda item, and the actual document accepting the suggested change, has not been furnished. A transcript of the meeting that approved the rate change has been requested but not provided.
Recently, Nor’eastern News editor John Woodard contacted Pasquotank County Manager Rodney Bunch, and Pasquotank County Commission Chairman Joe Winslow requesting input for this report.
Instead, County Compass publisher Jeff Aydelette received a call from Pasquotank County Attorney Mike Cox.
Monday, Oct. 5, Woodard, Aydelette, and Morris returned a call from Cox. The three expected to be provided with some explanation of the facts discussed in this article. However, no explanation was provided.
Rather, Chairman Winslow – while refusing to take questions — invited Aydelette to visit Elizabeth City in order to tour the landfill and attend a Solid Waste Committee meeting – a date scheduled for mid-November.
In concluding the phone call, Winslow said neither he nor any other county officials were prepared to discuss the substance of this article.