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City running out of room in landfill, looking to construct two new cells

The city of Selma has an estimated six to eight months to construct two new cells at its inert landfill before the current cell runs out of space.

Larry Friday, landfill director for the city, has addressed the Selma City Council multiple times during the recent budgeting process to explain the situation. He said the current cell is reaching its maximum capacity.

“We are reaching capacity in the not too distant future. We’ve been in this particular cell that we’re working in now for the last four years, and we’re just about to run out of room in it,” Friday said.

Depending on how much waste is dumped there over the next several months,’ Friday said the cell has anywhere from six to eight months to a year before a new cell is needed.

“We’ve got probably, I want to say, six to eight months’ capacity left,” Friday said. “Depending upon weather and waste stream, we’ve got maybe a year if we have good weather and our waste stream does not get any larger. If that particular activity picks up, our landfill life is shortened.”

Examples Friday gave that would increase the waste stream were a tornado or an increase in demolition of city properties.

The city has been using the current landfill, which is located on Water Avenue behind the Public Works Department building, since 2009 when cells one, two and three were constructed. Friday said there is room for two more cells, which he estimated to be around six acres, to be constructed.

The landfill does not accept garbage, which is known as household waste. It is mainly used for waste from construction projects or demolitions.

“That’s what it is mainly there for, to accept construction and demolition waste, but we also take to that landfill … leaves, limbs, bushes, trees [and] stumps,” Friday said. “Those sorts of things go out to that landfill, vegetation-type waste.”

City officials are currently in the process of finding funding to build two new cells at the landfill, which Friday estimated the cost to be around $166,500 for engineering and construction. The Selma City Council recently voted to continue operating under the 2016 budget, which did not include money to pay for the new cells. Now, the council must make an amendment to the budget to find the funds.

During a Selma City Council work session Thursday night, city attorney Jimmy Nunn said the project is expected to go out for bid on April 5.

The estimated construction time, according to Friday, is the same as the estimated time frame the current cell will reach capacity.

“That’s about what the construction time would be, so we’re cutting it close to the bone if you will. It’s not premature at all. They’re doing the right thing addressing the situation now,” Friday said.

“We’re cutting it pretty close, but we’re not in desperate, dire need. We’re not in a crisis situation.”

The way the landfill works is waste is brought to the cell and dumped. It is then compacted to save as much space as possible.

“We’ve got an excavated area with a hole in the ground. Waste is dumped into that hole, and the waste is compacted with a big, heavy 54-ton machine to get the landfill life as extensive as we can. We’re trying to get every inch and every acre out of the site,” Friday said.

“We cut it as closely as we possibly can and compact it as tight as we possibly can to conserve what is called air space in the landfill.”

The cell also has to be covered with dirt once a week, which is required by state law.

Once the two new cells are constructed, Friday said they will use one at the time until the other is filled. He estimated the average life of a cell to be between three and four years.