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Trash tour

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Mike Mills, who’s just shy of 6 feet tall, gives the News Letter Journal a tour of the landfill, including the pit, which is supposed to last about 12 years, is five acres wide and 100 feet deep.
Mary Stroka, NLJ Reporter

New landfill could last 300 years

About 4 miles south of the 4-way stop in Newcastle and 1.5 miles west of U.S. Highway 85 lies the site for Weston County’s new landfill.

On June 5, when Weston County Solid Waste District board member Mike Mills gave the News Letter Journal a tour of the site, all that was visible from the highway was a dirt pile under a power line that runs east and west.

The road from the highway to the landfill, which Farnsworth Services built wide enough for two trucks to safely pass each other at the same time, will exclusively be used for landfill purposes, Mills said. To help keep the site tidy, those in charge of the site are establishing an orderly process. Every customer who wants to drop off trash will have their vehicle weighed automatically at a scale house/office building when they enter and exit the site and pay a tipping fee. Tipping fees haven’t yet been determined.

Drivers of personal vehicles will back their vehicles up into a convenience center, where there will be roll-off dumpsters. These dumpsters can be picked up with a winch line and rolled off or onto trucks. Up to three vehicles will be able to do trash drop-offs at the same time. Authorized vehicles will bring the materials into the pit.

The 160-acre site, which is adjacent to some private land and some state land, should last about 300 years, assuming that every square inch of the land is usable, environmental rules don’t change and the amount of solid waste produced in Weston County doesn’t shift, Mills said.

Only one pit portion, called a “working face,” will be used at a time, and the size of that portion will depend on the volume of trash. The facility manager will decide how large that portion will be. The liner for the pit is about five-sixteenths of an inch thick and has a texture like rubber or silicone. The order of the pit layers — from closest to the Earth’s crust to the closest to the air — is the natural shale, the clay, the liner and the sand. Trash will be on top. Moisture in the garbage in the pit will be caught by an impermeable liner and pumped electronically through underground sump pumps into leachate ponds, where it will evaporate over time. The volume of moisture from the garbage itself won’t be huge, but moisture from snow or rain could accumulate in the pit.

“Nobody on the planet will know how much or how little that will be,” Mills said.

The site managers are determining whether the public will be able to drop off metals and refuse oils, he said. Hazardous materials, such as weed spray, will be prohibited.

Mills said the team hopes to open the landfill by mid-September. Remaining work at the site includes putting down more gravel and finishing the construction of the convenience center and scale house/office building. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality must also verify that all the work at the site follows regulations.

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