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DEQ rules under fire at landfill

DEQ rules under fire at landfill

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Associated Press

LANDER, Wyo. (AP) – The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is hindering the expansion of Fremont County’s landfills because of tougher groundwater rules, a county consultant said.

The department no longer allows landfills to be built without liners to prevent water in the landfills from seeping into groundwater, consulting engineer Howard Johnson said.

Under state law, all landfills must have impermeable liners, although most landfills in Wyoming received waivers from that rule, he said.

Now, 17 landfills have been found to be affecting groundwater, he said.

The problem is that no credible data exist on how water from a landfill might affect an aquifer, Howard said.

“The DEQ is trying to learn that right now. It may be that even though the water reaches an aquifer, it may be clean. No one knows that yet, so in the interim they aren’t allowing any landfills without liners until they know more,” he said.

The tougher rules mean that areas of two landfills previously permitted for waste can no longer be used.

Fremont County planned to use its landfill at Sand Draw until it could find and permit another landfill. Now that project will be more expensive, Howard said.

Instead of the county having capacity in two landfills to last the next 30 years, it will only have capacity for five years, Commissioner Doug Thompson said.

The Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District is being driven into a crisis because state regulators do not know what constitutes groundwater protection, he said Tuesday.

“It upsets the hell out of me,” said Commissioner Gene Leonardi. “They tell us what to do but they won’t give us the money. It ain’t right. It’s frustrating. What are we supposed to do without enough money to operate? We can’t use money we don’t have.”

Riverton City Councilman Travis Becker suggested the city and county formed an alliance “to put DEQ in their place.”

“DEQ is unelected and unaccountable and it’s time to stop telling us what needs to happen,” he said.

Thompson asked the district to develop firm numbers on options for solid waste disposal, including how much it would cost to have private companies run the county trash disposal system.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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