Rehoboth Beach officials are in the dumps after being cited by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for violations of the department’s trash removal permit.
On Aug. 28, the city was cited for six violations, most notably for dumping residential and commercial trash in with trash collected from the Boardwalk and beach. In addition, the city was cited for violations related to the smell of the facility, seagulls and flies around a concrete holding pad for the beach and Boardwalk trash, loose trash blowing around, runoff onto holding pad and liquids from the trash leaking out.
David Perrego, senior environmental compliance specialist with DNREC, said there are no penalties for the violations, but the city does have 30 days to get its facility back into compliance. Mayor Sam Cooper said the city plans to comply.
In the first week of August, DNREC was notified that the city was commingling residential and commercial trash with beach and Boardwalk trash. Cooper said employees began dumping trash in the pit due to breakdowns with city trash trucks around July 4. Perrego said the city had been mixing trash for nearly two months.
DNREC also cited the city for allowing leachate, liquid from the trash, to seep out of the facility and into the stormwater system, Perrego said. The public works facility lies next to Lincoln Street, the road that leads to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Cooper said some of the leachate had gotten in the road.
In 1991, Perrego said, the city and DNREC agreed to a program where the city would collect Boardwalk and beach trash and hold it at the public works yard, where it would be picked up and transported to a Delaware Solid Waste Authority transfer station at the end of every day. Perrego called the holding area a pad, while Cooper said city employees usually refer to it as “the pit.”
Perrego said the city was not to mix residential and commercial trash in with the beach and Boardwalk trash. The city’s residential and commercial trash is taken directly to the transfer station in Harbeson, he said. The pit area, according to the 1991 letter spelling out the agreement between DNREC and the city, was to be well maintained with waste removed daily and does not cause a health hazard or become a nuisance.
The city has taken steps to rectify the situation, Perrego said, such as cleaning up the pit, and keeping bags in containers when moving trash to the pit. Cooper said the city needs to do a better job of controlling runoff and keeping the area clean and free of seagulls. He said before the city can take steps to improve its trash handling, the city must get a better understanding of what is permitted and what isn’t.
“We have to think of better ways to handle it,” Cooper said of the trash collection.