MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WAFF) - Shoals Solid Waste Authority members Friday asked a representative of a Birmingham professional services firm to submit a proposal to evaluate the value of a privately owned landfill in Cherokee, according to our news partner.
Purchasing the Cherokee Industrial Landfill or allowing the landfill owner to take over some of the Colbert County Landfill operations are just some options authority members are considering as the life of the current landfill is coming quickly to an end.
Authority Chairman and Tuscumbia Mayor Kerry Underwood said the authority wants to get an independent assessment of the landfill's current and future value.
"We're all kind of estimating it," he said.
Theo Johnson, of Volkert, said he would submit a proposal to have the site evaluated. He told authority members the evaluation would take a few weeks to complete once all the necessary information is gathered.
The authority is scrambling to deal with a landfill whose lifespan has been shortened by the amount of industrial waste it's accepting from Essity, the paper products manufacturer formerly known as SCA Tissue.
Authority member and Colbert County Commission Chairman Tommy Barnes said members of the authority met with Essity officials last week to discuss their contract, which expires in 2022.
He said company officials "like their contract" and do not appear interested in renegotiating it at this time.
One idea was to allow Essity to use the Cherokee Landfill, which would reduce fuel costs and the time it takes to haul the waste from Barton Riverfront Industrial Park to the landfill in Tuscumbia.
Underwood and Barnes said the authority is actively searching for property in the county suitable for a new landfill. Underwood said there is some property across the railroad tracks from the landfill that is being investigated.
The existing landfill has roughly 2-3 years left before it's full, but that time could be extended if the county could stop accepting the waste from Essity.
Another idea brought up at the meeting was the consolidation of services, which would involve one entity picking up garbage in the county and the cities. Muscle Shoals, however, just began using new automated arm garbage trucks earlier this year.
During Friday's SSWA meeting, Underwood said the authority must develop a plan for moving forward.
"I think this is the perfect time to discuss this," Underwood said.
Barnes said the authority will also discuss a short term agreement with the Cherokee landfill owners while a new county landfill is developed.