Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 12:34 PM on Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Solid waste project moves forward; bids due Oct. 20

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

The pre-bid meeting scheduled for Wednesday was a step forward in turning Homer's existing landfill into a solid waste transfer facility before the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation permit expires in August 2013.

Interest in the project is high, as evidenced by the 50 businesses, agencies and individuals from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado and as far away as New York and Georgia that took the time to download the project plan.

"The landfill is one of the last in the state that's just a monofill," said John Hedges, project manager of capital projects for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. "Back in the day, we used to dump trash in the ground and call it good. There was no liner, no way to handle run-off. We just put in some best-management practices to deal with that."

The state of Alaska allowed continued dumping because of need, said Hedges, but when DEC awarded the five-year permit for the Homer site in 2008, the borough was told it would be the last permit of that type.

"So we did some research and tried to figure out if it was cost effective to build a new landfill in Homer like the one in Soldotna, or set up a transfer facility and haul waste to the Soldotna landfill and deposit it there," said Hedges. "The numbers turned out to be more effective to haul it."

In June, Gov. Sean Parnell signed the state's capital budget, appropriating $9 million for the project. The first phase focuses on site development of approximately seven acres.

"It will involve clearing and grubbing, pulling roots and vegetated mats off the surface," said Hedges.

It also involves the excavation, removal and redisposal of approximately 52,000 cubic yards of solid waste from the front to the back of the existing landfill, followed by the importing of 160,000 tons of "Type III borrow," basically sand and gravel transported from another site to the Homer landfill site.

"We don't have a lot of room for staging, maneuvering and providing access to the site, so we're launching this first phase of work in order to prep for the building project which will be coming out in spring of 2012," said Hedges. "We're kind of getting a jump on everything. ... It's kind of a large specialty type of work for a specific type of contractor, and then we can move into the building contracting next."

Bids are due to the borough by Oct. 20.

"We will establish the lowest bidder and award to that lowest bidder, sign a contract and then give a notice to proceed," said Hedges. "They'll have until May 31 to complete the work."

The second phase of the project involves construction of a 17,500-square-foot transfer/waste handling building.

During the entire project, it will be business as usual at the Homer landfill.

"We'll make every effort to continue our operation," said Jack Maryott, director of the borough's solid waste program. "We'll be accepting waste during the entirety of the project."

Officially closing Homer as a waste disposal site will require installation of a waterproof cap and a gas collection system to help vent gas.

"The main purpose is to keep water from penetrating into the existing landfill so we'll basically seal it up," said Hedges. "And then we'll seed it, put topsoil on it."

An inset waste cell also will be set-up at the Homer site.

"Inert waste is from construction demolition, your old couch, things that can't be recycled and are not your household waste, anything we can segregate and not haul over the highway that isn't environmentally sensitive," said Hedges.

Current plans call for dedicating the existing baling facility for a recycling program.

Once the project is complete, all regular household waste from the southern peninsula will be trucked to the Central Peninsula Landfill in Soldotna. During the summer, a new cell was added to the Soldotna landfill, a project with a $3.5 million price tag.

"It will help accommodate some of the waste from Homer," said Hedges. "Our existing plan stretches out for another 20 years, but we have space to probably double that."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.