TRUMAN - The Prairieland board of directors on Friday tried to reassure an area garbage hauler nervous about being sued.
Dale Foster of B&B Sanitation of Winnebago said that before Prairieland switched from being a compost facility to making refuse-derived fuel, haulers agreed to bring their waste to Prairieland. But Foster wonders if they still have to do that since Prairieland's operations have changed.
"It's cheaper to go north than it is here," he said.
Foster also expressed a concern about being caught with inappropriate refuse, mainly from picking up asbestos or liquids at construction sites. He repeatedly asked if Prairieland will take care of any problems or if he is "on the hook for it?"
Foster mentioned strict federal regulations and officials who accept no excuses.
"One lawsuit and we're out of business," he stated.
Kevin Johnson, an attorney at Stoel Rives of Minneapolis, said Foster and other haulers signed contracts in 2010 that are valid through 2015. He said they have an obligation to deliver all their waste to Prairieland, for which the counties pay a $35 tipping fee.
"That's the heart of the agreement right there," Johnson said. "The tipping fee is the same to you whether it's compost or RDF."
"It has to be a hazardous material for it to be a big problem," added Prairieland plant director Mark Bauman.
Bauman said if there is a problem with an item, such as an air-conditioner, Prairieland will pull it out and set it aside so it can be taken to a certified place of disposal.
Asbestos and other materials fall into a different category, according to Billeye Rabbe, solid waste coordinator for Faribault and Martin counties.
"That's a demo thing and we're not involved in demo," she said, adding that those who take care of asbestos abatement must be licensed.
"Dale's obligation is to deliver acceptable waste," Johnson said. "It's up to the management of the facility to determine if it's acceptable. There is a process in place."
"Do you have an agreement with another facility you like better than us?" board member Greg Young asked Foster.
"No," Foster replied.
"The risk is where it's always been, we just expect him to fulfill his obligations," said Elliott Belgard, a board member and Martin County commissioner.
"As long as you fulfill your obligations to us, we'll fulfill our obligations to you," Young said.