County considers cleanup partners

Published 5:19 pm Monday, September 26, 2011

Escambia County Commissioners are considering an agreement that would put another entity in charge of paperwork and legwork involved in cleaning up illegal dumps across the county.
Dave Avant, a representative with Regional Environmental Solutions and Recycling, offered the services of his company to be the contact company working with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to clean up and restore property throughout the county currently being used as a waste site.
“What we can do is be responsible for working with ADEM in identifying and approving illegal dumps for cleanup,” Avant told commissioners Monday. “We identify the dump sites in the county and submit the data to ADEM and follow the process all the way through to get the sites cleaned up.”
Avant said legal dumps would not qualify under the program. Illegal dumps on property of innocent owners
Avant said the partnership with his company could mean money in the county coffers that wouldn’t be available if they did the work on their own.
“The county could make some money this way,” Avant said. “By playing whatever role you want from trucks and personnel to just about any phase of the process. Because we are doing the work, the county can work as a contractor and make money doing some or all of the work. It’s a win-win for the county.”
Avant said his company would be paid a 7½ percent grant fee in addition to a 7½ percent administration fee for their time on the projects for the county.
“That is part of the money paid by ADEM for the cleanup process,” Avant said. “That would not be money out of the county’s pocket for the work we do. That money is funded by the $1 per ton fee assessed on all solid waste in the state.”
Nancy Barton, the county’s environmental officer, said the work needs to be done and a one-woman department makes it difficult to follow the process closely.
“I have turned in a list of about 10 dumps in our county to ADEM to request funding for cleanup,” Barton said. “So far, they have cleaned about three. I’m not sure where we are on the others.”
Avant said a contract with his company would help take work off Barton and allow her to work on other projects for the county.
Commission Chairman David Stokes said Barton is stretched in the office with work all across the county.
“This would give Nancy some assistance to follow up on these illegal dumps,” Stokes said. “And, it’s assistance we won’t have to pay for.”
Avant said his company has worked with other counties in the same capacity and has achieved success in cleaning up illegal dumps across the state.
“It usually takes about six months to a year for the due diligence process,” Avant said. “We had five sites to become eligible at one time in Perry County and six months later, six more sites became eligible for ADEM cleanup.”
Commissioners agreed to consider the three-year contract proposed by Avant and his company. A decision is expected at the Oct. 10 meeting of the commission.