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Local News

ReVenture Permit Stalls, County Considers Expanding Landfill

http://66.225.205.104/JR20110404.mp3

Developers behind the ReVenture project to make electricity from household trash are scrambling to keep their plan alive while local officials hesitate to support it. ReVenture's developers have been pushing for fast approval from city and county officials because they want to be ready to take all of our household waste when Mecklenburg County's current landfill contract expires next summer. But the county commission says it won't be rushed and a key permit for ReVenture has stalled. The permit is for a trash sorting facility ReVenture wants to build near I-85 and N. Graham Street. Garbage would initially go there to be sifted for recyclables and then compacted for use in a power plant to be built near the Catawba River. Before ReVenture can build the sorting facility, developer Tom McKittrick needs to have a "bypass agreement in place" in the event of a problem. For example, if the power plant breaks down and trash starts piling up. McKittrick has been negotiating with privately-owned landfills to be that back-up option, but he says none have been willing to close a deal while the county is still on the fence about ReVenture. To keep the project moving, McKittrick now wants to list Mecklenburg County's own Foxhole Landfill near Ballantyne as the back-up option on the ReVenture permit. The Foxhole currently takes only construction waste, not the stinkier household stuff and it will cost the county $15 million to get it ready for that. McKittrick says he still plans to make a deal with a private landfill. But until then, the Foxhole option would keep the project alive. "This is effectively a valve to take some of the pressure off the project and the negotiations," says McKittrick. "It allows everyone to step back and really focus on the correct and most appropriate path." Environmental groups have been pushing local officials to slow down and scrutinize the ReVenture plan to burn trash for electricity. They say its effects on air and water quality have not been thoroughly explained. On Tuesday, Mecklenburg County Commissioners will consider authorizing $15 million in improvements to get the Foxhole Landfill ready for household waste. They'll also decide whether to spend $100,000 on an outside expert to review the ReVenture proposal McKittrick says he'd be open to covering that expense.