The Campbell County North Landfill has re-opened to the public.
Campbell County Commissioners voted Tuesday to reopen the landfill Wednesday after recommendations from landfill manager Matt Olsen and Public Health Director Jane Glaser.
“We’re comfortable, with some measures in place, where we could open up every day during the week to the public,” Olsen said.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the landfill was closed to the public. Commissioners then opened it to public dumping every other Saturday. The first Saturday this was done, April 4, 401 customers brought 117 tons to the landfill.
This past Saturday, 507 customers brought 149 tons of trash.
“I didn’t realize the landfill was the most popular place in town until this,” said Commission Chairman D.G. Reardon. “You’d think you were giving away free beer or something.”
When the landfill was first closed to the public, not much was known about the coronavirus and employees were worried about their own well-being, Olsen said.
“We had concerns about how long (the virus) could live in the soil,” he said.
Today, “we have a much clearer understanding and appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) and protocols on how we disinfect,” Olsen added.
After having many conversations with Glaser and Public Health response coordinator Randy Bury, Olsen said he has the “confidence to move forward” with opening the landfill.
The landfill is open 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
The way the landfill operation is structured makes it easy for people to keep at least 6 feet of distance from others, Olsen said. As long as people follow that rule, there isn’t a high risk of getting infected at the landfill.
He said people should continue to keep their kids and pets in their vehicles at all times while at the landfill.
“Even before all this, it was never a good idea to let your kids or pets run around. People especially need to do that now,” he said.
And he asks that residents hold off on bringing items that require a charge, such as tires and refrigerators, freezers and other appliances with Freon, to the landfill. That will limit the amount of interaction landfill employees have with the public.
“That’s put them at ease, and they feel much more comfortable allowing us to open back up,” Olsen said of the staff.
What about recycling?
The county also is considering opening its recycling facility, the CARE Center, on Monday. Olsen said Public Health will train the recycling staff this week on how to limit the spread of the virus.
“These guys do such a good job out there, greeting people when they come in, especially with elderly customers,” he said.
To limit contact, the employees will have to stop helping customers take recyclable materials out of their cars.
“We’ll just go back to imploring customers when they come up to please separate all your materials yourself,” Olsen said.
The recycling center also will spray down materials and let them sit for two or three days after they’ve been dropped off to ensure they’re not carrying any virus.
The recycling center will be open starting Monday with its normal hours, which are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
As for the rest of the county facilities and departments, Commissioner Rusty Bell recommended they talk with Public Health to have a plan in place for when the governor says it’s safe to open back up again.