Rhode Island Central Landfill Desperate to Expand, and it Will Cost

Date: October 14, 2010

Source: News Room

Rhode Island's Central Landfill, which is the primary destination for the vast majority of the state's waste for three decades, is running out of space. The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. (RIRRC), which is the quasi-governmental entity that owns and operates the landfill, hopes to win approval to expand a final area of the site which will extend its life by 22 years. That is based on its current intake of 750,000 tons of waste per year. The landfill occupies a 250-acre footprint on an 1,100 acre site of which about 100 acres remain that can be developed. However, to use the new area will require the demolition of five buildings, including the landfill-gas-to-energy plant, and the corporate headquarters that had cost $42 million to construct in the first place.

It is the direct result of years of poor planning, mismanagement and cronyism. The current administration, which took over in 2007, uncovered nearly $75 million in wasted expenses between 1999 and 2007 including the construction of an unnecessary $40 million transfer station. The current RIRRC has filed three lawsuits against former financial advisors and accountants which it accuses of negligence and breach of contract in making improper investments. The only alternative to the landfill is to construct a waste-to-energy plant, deemed unlikely since it has already been debated for 20 years and counting, or more likely, shipping the waste out-of-state. Either scenario will result in dramatically higher waste disposal costs for the many small municipalities who use the landfill at a subsidized $32 per ton tipping fee for the last 19 years. It was an example of economic flow control that ensured the long term viability of the landfill.

Key Statistics:

1,100 Acres: The existing acreage of the total landfill facility.

250 Acres: The footprint of the existing disposal area.

102.4 Acres: The size of the new tract.

750,000 Tons: The annual volume of trash.

22 Years: Anticipated lifespan of the Central Landfill if the new tract is approved.

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