by Jeremy Morrison
The Rolling Hills disposal facility — a site that has been polluting Escambia County for years — is moving on to the next phase. The clean-up phase.
Officials with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are hosting a meeting Thursday to update the public on closure efforts at the construction and demolition debris site. The department will be introducing the contractor that has been selected to perform the remediation work, and will also have experts on hand to discuss the remediation particulars.
“They can take you through the specifics and the aspects of how much soil is gonna be brought in, how stormwater will be handled, that kind of stuff,” said Brandy Smith, external affairs manager for the Northwest District of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
In addition to remediation plans, the public will also get a look at the price tag for the project: $1.6 million.
The owners of the Rollings Hills property, South Palafox Properties, LLC, had a financial assurance bond in the amount of $651,633, which was awarded to the FLDEP, to be put towards the remediation costs. The property owners have also been ordered to pay anything above and beyond that cost.
“We have a court order, we certainly hope to get that money out of them,” Smith said, when asked if the difference could fall to the state, or taxpayers.
Smith said that theoretically Rolling Hills’ assurance bond should have been enough to close the facility properly, but the site was operating outside the bounds of its permit.
“So, the cost of closure is more than it would have been,” Smith said, explaining that the facility was using more acreage than it was permitted for and also stacking waster “high and wide.”
The remediation work is expected to begin in mid-August, and wrap up sometime in December. Initial work will involve the installation of erosion and sediment controls like silt fencing, staging cover material and ensuring waste is shaped into slopes which account for stormwater management. The site will then be capped with a layer of soil.
The Rolling Hills facility was closed earlier this year after prolonged community outcry and legal wrangling with the state and Escambia County. It’s list of infractions include violating surface water quality standards and disposing of unauthorized waste. Ground water monitoring has revealed elevated levels of arsenic, boron, ammonia and iron and rotten-egg smell still wafts through the area as drywall decomposes and releases pockets of hydrogen sulfide.
Thursday’s meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Marie K. Young-Wedgewood Community Center, at 6405 Wagner Rd.