DEQ seeks state support to move forward with landfill closures

Oct 2, 2013

Many of Wyoming’s landfills are leaking or approaching capacity, so the Department of Environmental Quality is working with state agencies and municipalities to develop and fund a plan to close facilities that aren’t environmentally sustainable, and move new waste to landfills which are.

DEQ Spokesman Keith Guille says the existing landfills in the state are permitted, and were built to environmental standards at the time.

“Obviously, as environmental rules and regs, and just knowledge about the environment has come down, new steps have been taken with new landfills to make sure that groundwater contamination does not happen as often,” Guille says.

Last week, the DEQ submitted a draft report to a legislative committee that prioritizes the order, timeline and cost of closing leaking landfills across the state.

The DEQ estimates the process of closing and capping landfills – and diverting waste to proper facilities – will cost about $120 million over the next 50 years.

Senator Chris Rothfuss of the Minerals Committee says the state will likely cover about two-thirds of the cost. Splits with localities will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Each county has had to come up with a plan to run self-sustaining waste-management plans moving forward.

“The leaking facility costs are so much greater than what it costs to just properly handle it before it starts leaking, that we want to try and head these things off,” Rothfuss says.

The DEQ draft report says technical and financial constraints could prevent operators from meeting the schedule for closure, so DEQ might temporarily allow using construction and demolition waste to stabilize landfill slopes.

Rothfuss says this would also be a cheaper option than shipping the heavy C&D waste.

He says a plan and proposals for initial funding will be presented to the legislature this winter.

Tomorrow, the State Land and Investment Board will consider which rules in the DEQ’s landfill closure plan to adopt and which costs to cover.