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Update on the evaluation of potential landfill sites in Chatham County

Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2010

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Pittsboro, NC - On August 16, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners received an update from Camp Dresser & McKee, a contract consulting firm, identifying possible sites that meet initial screening criteria for a potential landfill if the county opts to dispose of its solid waste inside the county.

“Chatham County currently ships its solid waste more than 80 miles and pays an increasingly high cost to do so” said Dan LaMontagne, PE, director of Chatham County Waste Management.

A 2009 study of the county’s waste disposal options estimated that a new county-operated landfill instead of the current contract to dispose of solid waste outside the county would save approximately $190 million dollars over 45 years. If the county opted for a larger landfill that allowed a few surrounding localities to pay Chatham County to accept their waste, the county would realize additional savings over 45 years. As a result of this study, the county’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee recommended pursuing a county landfill.

“The most important point for residents to know at this time is that we are in the initial stages of the evaluation and no decision to site a landfill has been made yet,” LaMontagne noted. The vision for this process is that “Chatham County has undertaken a landfill site evaluation to provide the citizens long-term solid waste management that is economically, environmentally and socially sound and sustainable.”

Camp Dresser and McKee identified potential sites based on state-mandated criteria. The state criteria excludes several areas based on proximity to watersheds, streams, floodplains, airports, state game lands, state parks and national wildlife refuges. The initial screening also restricted the search to areas outside municipality boundaries.

The sites identified thus far meet these criteria and also are parcels that total at least 100 acres, but have adjoining parcels that would potentially provide at least 400 acres.

The next step involves developing additional criteria for evaluating and ranking sites to narrow them to a smaller group, with the goal of recommending three or more potential sites that will be further evaluated for engineering and financial feasibility. Once the three sites have been evaluated, the site with the most suitable potential for landfill development will be recommended.

“This process will take several months. We do not expect to have a report on the final recommendation until January 2011,” said LaMontagne.

To support the goal of public transparency, Camp Dresser and McKee outlined several strategies for keeping the public informed, including fact sheets, frequently asked questions and media updates. A special Waste Management webpage will be created by the end of August where current information will be posted. The county will have a link to this page from its Quick Links box on the homepage at

Public meetings also will be scheduled as needed, with the first meetings scheduled in four to six weeks. The commissioners asked that the meetings be held in convenient locations around the county, with special emphasis on areas close to potential sites. Martin Sanford from Camp Dresser and McKee assured the commissioners that they would work with the county to select public meeting locations and dates.

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Update on the evaluation of potential landfill sites in Chatham County

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