Shannon Reed has been the director of Tipton County Public Works, which oversees the county landfill in Brighton, for 12 years.
Last Saturday he saw some things he’s never seen before as multiple factors combined to make it maybe the busiest day in the history of the facility.
The landfill has 16 40-yard containers, which are 22 feet long, 7.5 feet wide and eight feet deep and can hold 10 tons of garbage. Thirteen of them were filled to capacity. At the end of the day the last three were three-fourths full. Reed was thinking about borrowing dump trucks from the highway department to accommodate the volume when the day mercifully ended.
“I have never seen traffic like this at our landfill,” Reed said.
The landfill was closed the day before on Good Friday. Saturday’s weather was beautiful, there was a windstorm earlier that week and everybody seems to be cleaning up their property during COVID-19. That all added up to make history at the landfill.
“That all makes for a disastrous day,” Reed said. “Traffic was backed up half a mile in the northbound lane of Highway 51. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that. You had the perfect storm for Saturday … Everybody is staying home, cleaning out sheds, garages, yards, everything. That’s essentially all people have to do right now, in my opinion. There’s nothing wrong with that, we’re just having to make modifications to accommodate that kind of volume.”
To make sure his crew is ready for more customers, Reed requested that the county commission appropriate $50,000 for five more containers. The commission approved the request unanimously last Monday during a Zoom meeting.
“I don’t personally see traffic like that happening again, but you never know,” Reed said. “I can’t take a chance. I have to have the extra volume in case something happens.”
A few years ago landfill workers began compacting the trash into the boxes to be more efficient and save money, which increased the capacity of the boxes from three to 10 tons. Very sturdy, and more expensive, boxes are required when garbage is compacted. The full boxes are taken to another landfill in Mississippi on a daily basis.
While Saturday was a historic day, things have been very busy every day since Gov. Bill Lee issued a stay-at-home order. Reed said traffic is up at least 40 percent.
“Every day since stay-at-home was ordered is now like a normal Saturday,” Reed said. “I mean every day.”
Because of coronavirus concerns, the landfill is working with skeleton crews and the recycling program has stopped.
“The reason (recycling has stopped) is it’s been said the virus lives on plastic for three days and cardboard for 24 hours,” Reed said. “This virus ls living on surfaces for a long time, so I can’t take the risk of having to shut my entire workforce down. We’re just trying to make it.”
Reed also said landfill permits can no longer be purchased at the landfill. Anyone needing a permit needs to go the public works office, which is located just north of the landfill.