Work Under Way to Dig Up Houses
Heavy equipment is busy scraping away surface brush in Taylortown in preparations for digging up refuse from long-buried houses.
Since March 19, the town has been under a mandate from the Solid Waste Section of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), giving it 30 days to excavate eight illegally buried houses or face fines that could range up to $15,000 per day per violation.
Those houses were demolished and buried seven or eight years ago after being condemned -- but state rules require refuse from such demolition be disposed of in proper sites such as the Moore County landfill.
That didn't happen, and there could be more than eight such illegal burial sites.
"There are at least 11 different known," Mayor Jesse Fuller told the Town Council Tuesday. "We think that there might be more."
The council held a special meeting to interview applicants and choose one company to do the excavation work and inspection. Robert Hearn with DENR told Fuller that he wants to be present when refuse from those houses is unearthed.
Taylortown chose Mid-East Railroad Service Inc., a Carthage company owned by Ken Eder, which deals with train derailments. He is known also for his extensive collection of antique steam engines, steam tractors, steam shovels and other farm and railroad equipment kept at his Carthage home.
After considering a number of proposals, the council voted unanimously to contract with Eder. Taylortown council members said they chose Eder's initially more costly proposal over others because he gave them a fixed maximum price per site. Other bids were more open-ended and could have brought the town possibly a much bigger bill.
Eder will also conduct tests to make sure the town won't face the possibility of future problems.
He was on the job the next day. On Wednesday afternoon, Fuller and council member Ellis Ray accompanied Eder as his equipment began clearing away brush to get to the surface of the properties.
Eder and Fuller each spoke with Hearn by telephone so he would know the town had complied with his insistence on Taylortown making substantial progress before considering any extension on the 30-day period.
Apparently satisfied that the town had moved quickly to contract the work, Hearn told council members that he had to be present to look in the holes. Until then, Eder will be clearing kudzu and brush and getting ready to dig once Hearn is there, to look on. That visit is scheduled for Monday.
The exact location of buried debris is not known. Eder will probably have to dig test holes to find it. After locating buried structural trash, he will remove any prohibited material and cart it to the dump.
The county charges a disposal fee of $37.50 per ton. Taylortown council members hope the county commissioners will grant them a waiver, but nothing has been promised so far.
Unearthed hard substances such as brick and concrete block cannot be reburied at the same place, even though they are legal fill if trucked to another site, Eder told the council. Doing that may be more trouble and more expensive than carrying it away, he said.
His fixed fee does not include the costs of any fill dirt that will have to be purchased, but it will cover the services of an environmental engineer to work with DENR. Eder will also help the town seek help from state grants.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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