Stefanie Cope

Staff Writer

Debate over the transfer and sale of a landfill continues as more information comes to light.

A landfill on Southeast Wyandotte, originally owned by Brumback and Atkinson Construction Company has been sold to Mission Construction owned by Michael Beachner. Beachner is related to the owners of Beachner Construction in Parsons, Kan. which asked the Cherokee County Commission for an emergency permit to open a construction and demolition debris landfill earlier this summer — a request the commission turned down, citing long-term costs to the county. County Solid Waste Director Carl Hayes told commissioners on June 6 when Beachner Construction asked for the permit the county would be responsible for the landfill for 30 years after closure.

The landfill on Wyandotte has not been officially closed by Brumback and transfer paperwork to change ownership has been filed, but has yet to be approved.

Kansas Department of  Health and Environment Bureau of Waste Management Director Bill Bider said KDHE has yet to receive all the transfer paperwork from Beachner.

Bider said there are two types of transfer permits available. One is the full transfer and the other transfer allows Brumback to own, and Beachner to operate, the landfill while the full transfer paperwork is processed. Bider said currently Beachner is trying to be a contract owner and operator for the landfill, but some of the paperwork is still missing.

Bider said if the permit is approved it will restrict Beachner to the use of the small portion of still functioning landfill without approval from local government.

Bider said Brumback had started the process to formally close the landfill, but said because of a lack of follow-through on Brumback’s part, the process has yet to be completed. Bider said to close a landfill a closure plan must be submitted and implemented and an engineer must come to the facility to make sure the landfill is being closed according to the closure plan — only part s of which have been done.

“I don’t think Mr. Brumback intends to close it.” Bider said.

Bider said the functioning landfill will stay in Brumback’s name until the transfer paperwork is approved.

Bider also said Beachner currently cannot make any changes or use the landfill. He said the landfill needs to be updated operationally. Bider said there must be changes made to bring the landfill up to date before any waste can be taken to it. He also said if there are going to be new practices at the landfill than new paperwork must be turned in.

“KDHE has said the landfill can’t be used until the paperwork comes through.” Bider said.

Cherokee County Commissioner Richard Hilderbrand, in whose district Brumback’s landfill is situated, has also been involved in the issue.

Hilderbrand said he has heard nothing but negative feedback for this landfill.

He said it is his understanding that the landfill has always been a construction and demolition debris landfill and he was concerned because it had been going through a closure process which was never finished.

Hilderbrand also said he thinks if a new landfill were to open or this one was to expand it could possibly have a negative effect on the other landfills in the area. He said if the it were to stay the same size and not make changes then there would more than likely be little impact.

Co-owner of B3 Construction Lori Johnson also said she is unsure if the landfill is operating.

Johnson said B3 has been catching some grief from the community about not wanting another landfill to be in area.

Johnson said B3 has no concerns with another landfill coming into the area, she said the problem is the new operators of the landfill are not having to go through the same drawn-out procedures the other landfills had to go through to be approved. She said it was a multi-year approval process for B3’s expansion some years back. Johnson said they have not applied for any expansion permits since the tornado, simply because there was no need — she said they have more than enough room for the debris they have taken in.

“We have been in business for 20 years before the tornado and we will be in business 20 years after.” Johnson said.

Johnson said they also have some of the lowest tipping fees of any landfill in the area. She also said they did not open simply to accept tornado debris.

Johnson said in the days after the May 22 EF-5 tornado which hit Joplin, they were seeing and average of 120 trucks a day at the landfill. She said now that the emergency status has been lifted they are only seeing around 20 trucks a day. She also said B3 is gaining a lot of business in the demolition efforts in Joplin. Johnson said because of the decrease she does not believe she will see an impact on B3 from the landfill.

“We have customers who are loyal to us and will continue to be loyal to us.” Johnson said.