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Mayor Offers To Take Wandering Garbage; Others Say It’s Unlikely

June 12, 1987

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Mayor Dana Rinehart offered Friday to accept 3,100 tons of New York garbage that has been rejected by six states and three nations and reduce it to ashes in the state capital’s trash-burning power plant.

But the mayor’s offer was contingent on a payment of nearly $1 million and approval from environmental authorities, neither of which appeared likely.

″We normally operate at below capacity, ... but that’s not the reason that we did this,″ Rinehart said in an interview. The mayor said he made his offer because the garbage had become an ″international embarrassment.″

The barge, anchored in New York harbor, began its trip on March 22. It has been rejected by North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Florida, and by Mexico, Belize and the Bahamas.

No settlement has been reached on where the trash will wind up.

″It’s time we just put this little episode behind us,″ said Rinehart, a Republican in his first term as mayor. ″I mean, this story’s being carried around the world: ’America can’t get rid of its garbage.‴

Rinehart said he sent a telegram to Frank Jones, city supervisor in Islip, N.Y., where the trash’s odyssey began. The mayor offered to burn the garbage for $300 a ton, several times the $14 to $15 a ton the city usually gets for burning trash and a total of $930,000. A copy of the telegram was sent to New York City Mayor Edward Koch.

Michael Trunzo, a spokesman for Jones, called Rinehart’s proposal ″quite a ridiculous offer″ and noted that Jones had no authority over the garbage because it was the property of the barge owner.

″He’s the one that the offer should be made to,″ Trunzo said.

Vito A. Turso, a spokesman for the New York City Sanitation Department, said the amount of money being sought by the mayor would likely prevent acceptance of the offer.

Turso said estimates of the cost just to move the garbage to a Long Island landfill are $150,000.

″To try to up the ante ... is only $750,000 more of a problem,″ he said.

Allan Franks, a spokesman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said there were legal roadblocks to the city’s acceptance of the trash. He said his agency announced three weeks ago that the garbage would not be accepted in Ohio, primarily because of uncertainty over its contents.

He also said acceptance of garbage from outside Franklin County is prohibited by the trash-burning plant’s operating permit.

Rinehart said the trash-burning power plant, opened about two years ago, can burn as much as 2,000 tons of trash per day and produce 90 to 100 megawatts of power each hour.

″We run it at about 60 megawatts, and we run it off of 100 percent garbage,″ he said.

The plant incinerates garbage at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Farenheit to provide power for street lights and 6,500 commercial and residential customers, the mayor said.

″I mean, I’m sitting in this office here lighted by garbage,″ Rinehart said.

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