LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A state environmental agency couldn’t have prevented the financial collapse of a regional solid waste district in Arkansas, and it probably won’t be able to if it happens again, officials told a state commission.
Department of Environmental Quality attorney Mike McAlister told the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission that his agency couldn’t have made a decision that would have “drastically changed” the outcome of the collapse of the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .
“Specifically, I’m not aware of any one given action or set of actions that this body could have taken,” McAlister told the commission Friday.
Commissioner Wesley Stites, a professor at the University of Arkansas, asked McAlister if the Ozark district’s collapse and future financial implosions in other districts were “inevitable.”
“I suppose that’s true,” McAlister replied.
The Department of Environmental Quality is spending nearly $13 million to bail out the district, which voted in 2012 to default on a $12.3 million bond and stop collecting trash. The default prompted the district to stop collecting trash, which was its only revenue source.
Things got worse from there. The district’s landfill leaked and created a potential environmental hazard that will need to be cleaned by the state environmental department. The collapse also prevented district workers from clearing about a million tires near the landfall.
The department has said it will recover cleanup costs through an $18 annual annual fee that will be paid by residents in Carroll, Boone, Marion, Baxter, Searcy and Newton counties.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com