City council moves one step closer toward reopening of landfill

Keith Rutherford, project manager for Parkhill Smith & Cooper (PSC), made a detailed presentation on Tuesday to the city council regarding the status of the landfill.  The Advocate reported recently that a study conducted by PSC indicated that the landfill had an approximate lifespan of about 10 years.

According to Mr. Rutherford, for all intents and purposes, the landfill ceased all disposal operations in 1999; however, he said that there were no records to indicate that the landfill had been properly closed. This would have entailed filing the proper paperwork with the proper state agency, which is now the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ).

“[The Town of Van Horn’s] Landfill (MSW No. 693) was originally permitted by the Texas Department of Health Resources,” according to PSC’s presentation. ” The permit consisted of minimal data, basic site, disposal and operation information which was typical of permits from that era…. The permit did not provide many of the documents required by current permit standards such as a complete site layout plan, storm water drainage design, cell layout or a site operating plan. TCEQ was requested but unable to find any additional permit paperwork. Therefore, the permit would be considered insufficient by TCEQ.”

“[The Town of Van Horn] submitted an application to convert the MSW No. 693 site to an Arid Exempt landfill to comply with TNRCC rules effective in 1993. The landfill’s arid location and solid waste tonnage of less than 20 tons per day would allow the city to continue depositing waste in unlined cells. No changes were made to the permit during this process, leaving the document incomplete. The application did provide additional information not contained in the original permit which included a site map, existing groundwater analysis and soil boring data.”

“The application stated the landfill had approximately 16 years of life remaining as of 1993. As understood from information provided verbally by [The Town of Van Horn], the landfill has been unused since 1999. Based on this information, the site would have approximately 10 years remaining life.”

Mr. Rutherford said it would cost about $90,000 to begin the permitting process that would amend the current permit No. 693. However, Utilities Manager Dion Corrales said that the real costs will by necessity be higher because of the need to purchase a compactor, a loader and perhaps a gas monitoring system.

Still, the cost of re-opening the landfill would save the city thousands of dollars in fees now paid to the Sierra Blanca landfill, said City Administrator Fran Malafronte.

Council member Domingo Corralez expressed an urgency to move ahead as quickly as possible with the permitting process. Mr. Rutherford estimated that once the paperwork to TECQ is put into motion, that it could take between one to three years to receive final approval.

In other action, the council:
•Approved destruction of records in compliance with state records disposition laws;
•Approved a proclamation naming Aug. 25 through Aug. 29 as Back to School Week of Prayer;
•Approved one quote of $3,500 for a new door for the gas company building.


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