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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County is trashing a plan a deal to get the county’s solid waste incinerator back up and running. But the ongoing discussion about what to do with garbage has cost the taxpayers a pretty penny.

For months New Hanover County Commissioners have explored paying Covanta Energy millions of dollars to refurbish the old WASTEC incinerator.

But county staff has informed the company that deal is dead.

“The way it looks, that is indeed the case,” said Commissioner Jonathan Barfield. “I’m not sure where we’re going from here, but previous boards have gone through this process of looking at all the options out there, and we had to deal with R3, which fell through.”

For now all county trash will go into the landfill. Barfield thinks it makes more sense to use the idle incinerator than just expand the dump.

“We’re going to spend roughly $27-30 million to expand the landfill over the time period we’re looking at,” Barfield said. “It would cost us the same thing to refurbish WASTEC. It would more than double the time of our landfill if we would do that. We really can’t build another landfill in this area. We have to determine what we are going to do with our trash here locally.”

County staff will study what to do with solid waste, but Barfield is not impressed with the so-called high tech solutions.

“To me they’re all pie-in-the-sky things; almost like R3,” he said. “I’ve heard so many different proposals from different companies from all over the country trying to handle our solid waste here. Everything from squirting enzyme into the trash and making it eat things up to R3, and again, there’s no new cutting-edge technology that’s out there.”

The StarNews reports documents fro the county’s accounting department show the county has spent $409,723.06 so far on finding a solid waste solution and still owes $93,856.27 on contracts involved in the process.

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