Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fact Checking the Trash Talk

Monday night the NTMWD addressed the Richardson City Council about plans to replace the Lookout Trash Transfer Station. Neighbors of the transfer station are objecting to the project. There are some bogus claims making the rounds. Not in what the NTMWD presented, but in what's being said by the public. The longer such claims go uncorrected, the more deeply they take root as established "facts". After the jump, two examples.

First, the Richardson resident who spoke to the council during the visitors section of the agenda pilloried the council for not opposing the NTMWD's plans for rebuilding the transfer station. He said, "We elected you all to come in here and we elected you all to make the right decisions for the city."

In fact, the council members are all doing exactly what they told voters they would do during the election campaign seven months ago. In April, at a candidate forum at the NTX Automotive Museum, all the incumbent city council members and all the successful candidates who make up the current city council expressed support for the improvement plans for the transfer station. The voters are getting exactly what they voted for. If the speaker is disappointed, it's not because the candidates are not living up to the positions they took during the election campaign.

Second, the same speaker criticized the plans to "triple the size, or double the size, or whatever" the Lookout Transfer Station. Another critic, using (faulty) memory and rumors, posted online a claim that the plan was to increase the transfer station by anywhere from 2 to 6 times its present size. So, in fact, just how big is NTMWD proposing to make that new transfer station? Is it 2x, 3x or 6x the present size? Try 1.5x.

The existing transfer station is "permitted" at 500 tons/day average throughput. Its design capacity is 750 tons/day. Its peak throughput is approximately 1000 tons/day.

Last summer, in a presentation made by the NTMWD to neighborhood associations, the district proposed a peak throughput of 1900 tons/day, close to but still less than 2x the current peak throughput. Using the rule of thumb that the peak throughput is 2x the average throughput, that would indicate a proposed average throughput of 950 tons/day, less than 2x the permitted average throughput of the existing station.

NTMWD's latest proposal is to permit the new transfer station at 750 tons/day average throughput with a peak throughput of 1500 tons/day. That's 1.5x the current permitted throughput. And that's not expected to be reached until 2030.

In none of the proposals did the new transfer station reach 2x, 3x, or 6x the current size. Rumors (and memory) aren't always reliable. But we all knew that. The irony was that the speaker at the council work session, after using his five minutes to pillory the council, made to leave the council chambers instead of staying to hear the presentation by the NTMWD. The mayor called him back.

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