People ask me all the time how Superstorm Sandy has affected our local landfills. They wonder how much debris was put there, and how many operating years the storm took from our landfills by taking precious space. The answer is complex and simple at the same time. The end result of the storm had a negligible effect on our PERMITTED landfill space. The reason for this is that after Sandy, the landfills were granted additional height waivers on the existing landfill. In essence, the government has allowed the landfill to increase the capacity it takes to compensate for the storm debris.
I have heard people arguing against the plan with an argument that we can’t “just keep going higher”. Although this is true, having a firm solid waste plan for a community is vital to the effective operation of that community. Waste stream transfer plans (the landfill to post landfill transfer) take time to develop and build. Superstorm Sandy put an incredible strain on the local landfills and to cut that time off the transfer plan would end with disastrous results. Can you imagine what would happen if we ran out of space before the new waste removal plan was up and running? Think NYC Department of Sanitation strikes….. Not a pleasant thought.
Currently, the Ocean County Landfill is constructing a new transfer station on its current landfill site. Once operational, this transfer station will be able to take the daily debris from the county, consolidate that debris into over the road tractor trailers and ship the waste to landfills in other states. This may seem cost ineffective, but it actually is a very viable alternative to building a waste burner.
Recycling has also helped extend the life of our landfills. I always try to promote proper recycling. It just makes sense. So in essence, Sandy certainly took some valuable space away from our landfills. In fact, I heard (although this is an unconfirmed statistic) that the storm took at least 5 years away from the operating space of our landfills here in central Jersey. Regardless of how many operating years the storm took, I can tell you that from seeing it first hand, it was an incredible site to see. In fact, shortly after the storm there were lines entering the Ocean County landfill extended over a mile long. And that was just to get in the gate. The scale is quite a bit further down the entrance road!
I hope to never see a storm like that again, but if it comes I can tell you that we have the knowledge, expertise and committed professionals to handle any job. I saw those garbage men work tirelessly to clear the streets so emergency services could begin the recovery process. I know that when the garbage is gone, we seldom think about it, but remember a lot of hard working men and women worked around the clock to get the job done. I salute you all!
Be safe, be well and most of all BE HAPPY!