Harrisburg seeks new trash service after Delta Environmental closes

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) – Trash cans are overflowing in several communities in Northeast Arkansas.

That's because many have no garbage collection anymore since Delta Environmental closed down its operations last week.

Towns like Harrisburg are now working toward a solution. Mayor Randy Mills called a special city council meeting Tuesday night.

The council hopes to choose a temporary provider to pick up people's trash and replace the now defunct Delta Environmental.

"I don't think people necessarily want all the details," Mills said. "They just want their garbage picked up."

That simple task has become the first priority for the community of Harrisburg. Mills received a call Friday morning that the company contracted to haul away his town's trash had shut its doors.

"As I understand it when their folks went to work Friday morning, there was a note on the door telling them that they did not have a job any longer, that Delta Environmental was closed," Mills said. "We got a call from one of the drivers is who our actual first contact was."

Mills says the chorus of complaints against Delta Environmental grew louder earlier this year.

Neighbors grew accustomed to late service. They also expected waste to leak from the company's trucks, leaving garbage lying in the streets.

"And, as I understand it," the mayor added, "they were trying to weld new floors in their trucks, but still they were losing solids and liquids on the streets, made the town stink."

The shoddy service perhaps reflected internal struggles.

Delta Environmental, owned by Eaton Moery Environmental, filed a motion Friday to convert its bankruptcy claim from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7.

Harrisburg city officials also received notice recently that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality had cited the company's landfill in Dewitt, Ark., for a number of violations.

These problems aside, Mayor Mills says he is ready to name a temporary service to collect people's garbage.

He plans to strike a deal Tuesday evening and hopefully keep residential garbage rates at the current level of $14.22 a month.

"That's a service that has to be provided, and they want us to take care of it," he said. "That's what we're going to do."

Whomever the city chooses to temporarily pick up trash, the mayor says that company will collect garbage from people's homes and small businesses.

Larger industry is another issue, so Mills asks any business owners concerned about their pickup schedule to call him at 870-578-5467.

The company has been at odds with the city of Trumann over a trash pickup contract since 2010.

Attorneys and representatives for the city of Trumann and Delta Environmental appeared in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in January of this year regarding disputes over commercial trash pickup and payments.

According to Trumann Mayor Sheila Walters earlier in 2012, the city maintained Delta Environmental, which entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, had not fulfilled a contractual obligation to pick up trash. At the same time, Delta Environmental contended the city has not made appropriate monthly payments.

In August of 2010, the city passed a resolution to cancel the contract, but once Delta filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, an "automatic stay" was granted. An "automatic stay" prevents civil action from being taken against an entity without permission of bankruptcy court.

Previous attempts by the city to get out of the contract failed.

The residential side of the contract was dissolved in February of 2012. In December of 2011, a settlement was reached requiring the city to pay Delta $6,000 in a timely manner, give an updated list of clients and a provision to cancel the contract.

Delta Environmental's local office number has been disconnected.

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