The tentative agreement between Mayor Eddie A. Perez and the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority over who will assume responsibility for the closing and monitoring of the hideous landfill in Hartford's North Meadows is welcome and significant.
Hartford visitors and residents, especially those in the North End, have been counting the days when those dive-bombing seagulls and the sickly smell that has wafted in from the trash mountain across I-91 for more than three decades will be a thing of the past.
Both sides have been bickering for years over who should pay for closing the landfill and monitoring it. The city, which has leased the property under the landfill to CRRA since 1982, appears to have gotten much of what it wanted, although the pending settlement has many moving parts that must yet align.
The agreement specifies that CRRA picks up the estimated $5 million cost of closing the landfill and capping it with thick synthetic nylon to stop rain from seeping into the ground and creating the toxic odor.
CRRA also agrees to pay $20 million toward the $35.5 million expense of monitoring the 96-acre site for 30 years, the time it takes to burn off the methane gas produced by decomposing garbage. A measure obligating the state to supply the remaining $15.5 million must then be approved by the General Assembly and Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
Another part of the deal hinges on persuading the DEP to extend the life of the landfill until Dec. 31, 2008, to allow CRRA to continue dumping on a section of the upper slope of the landfill that faces the Connecticut River.
The DEP should grant this sensible request. The extra room could hold another 250,000 tons of waste without affecting the height of the landfill. It also would save CRRA and its member towns about $750,000 a month, the estimated cost of hauling their waste to other parts of the country if the landfill closes earlier.
Some of those savings could then be used to pay for the closing.
All of the players involved are urged to make certain that everything in the agreement falls into place.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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