Yuba County blames state vagueness for lack of Recology fees
Vague or missing answers from state regulators left Yuba County's environmental health department without the guidance to charge Recology Yuba-Sutter for alternative daily cover at the Ostrom Road landfill, county officials testified Thursday.
At a hearing of the Bi-County Solid Waste Independent Hearing Panel in Marysville, the officials said there was still no formal state response on the meaning of a rescission of a previous policy banning such charges.
"They wouldn't give us an answer, so all the old permits have been left in place," said Paul Donoho, an employee with the county's Environmental Health Department, which is the local enforcement agency overseeing the landfill.
Yuba Group Against Garbage has petitioned the panel to find that alternative daily cover is subject to county tipping fees, because it's made of trash as much as what it covers. The county has missed out on millions in tipping fees by not doing so, according to YuGAG.
Attorneys for YuGAG, a watchdog group for the landfill, said at the hearing's outset earlier this week the county hadn't held Ostrom Road's alternative daily cover to those standards despite CalRecycle changing its policy on such materials to allow it.
But in presenting their defense Thursday, environmental health officials said the state was apparently still struggling with how changing its policy applied to existing permits, such the one Recology has for Ostrom Road. Donoho said in his testimony he believed alternative daily cover was a beneficial reuse of material, making it different from the trash underneath.
Another environmental health official, Stephanie Kendall, said repeated inspections by county staff have never turned up a problem with alternative daily cover at Ostrom Road.
And an attorney for the local enforcement agency introduced a recent permit for a landfill in Solano County where alternative daily cover is still considered exempt from tipping fees.
The panel's three members delayed cross-examination by YuGAG of department officials until next Tuesday morning. After the hearing's conclusion, the panel will rule within a few weeks on the petition.
In addition to a county supervisor, the panel has two members considered to have technical expertise in landfill issues.
CONTACT reporter Ben van der Meer at 749-4786.