Plenty to get done as city landfill closes

As the Huntington City Landfill is closed, vents with yellow fittings are placed around the area to allow methane gas to escape.
As the Huntington City Landfill is closed, vents with yellow fittings are placed around the area to allow methane gas to escape. Photo provided.

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City of Huntington

The Huntington City Landfill, which opened in 1970, won’t be around to see its 50th birthday.

Beset by rising costs, ever tightening environmental regulations, and the consequences of missteps in the past, the landfill is now being permanently closed. Trash pickup and disposal in the City of Huntington will be outsourced to a private company.

The Huntington City Landfill spreads over about 225 acres on CR 300W.

Of that total, only about 54 acres has been used to bury trash. The remaining 170 or so acres has been used as a source of dirt and clay to cover trash placed in the active sections of the landfill.

The landfill was permitted to accept only municipal solid waste, including daily household trash, as well as construction debris. It has never been permitted to accept industrial waste, although one local industry was allowed to dump there for several years.

The densely compacted trash varies in depth from 40 feet to 50 feet.

As the landfill is closed, each individual cell must be covered with a geosynthetic fabric, which is stitched together so nothing can penetrate it, and a total of six feet of cover. Topsoil will be added so the area can be seeded.

Vents with yellow fittings are placed around the area to allow methane gas to escape.

Leachate, the liquids that run down through the trash, will continue to be pumped out and taken to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

“Stormwater gets into the trash, seeps through and picks up toxins,” explains Anthony Goodnight, the city’s director of public works and engineering services. “We pump it out and take it to the wastewater treatment plant so it doesn’t get into the groundwater.”

The leachate totals 10,000 to 25,000 gallons a day and requires two people working full-time to remove it. In 20 years or so, it may become a part-time job for one person as the amount of leachate decreases.

Once the Indiana Department of Environmental Management decides that the city has met all requirements for closing the landfill, the clock on a 30-year period of monitoring and maintenance begins. That period could last longer than 30 years.

The landfill staff will be reduced from seven people to four. Two of those people will spend their time pumping out leachate and driving the leachate-loaded semis from the landfill to the wastewater treatment plant and back. The other two will keep the approximately 200 acres mowed and perform other maintenance tasks, including keeping erosion at bay.

The city can’t allow trees to grow in the area; their roots would rip holes in the liner.

The areas used as trash depositories can’t be used for farming for the same reason.