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Largest US Landfill Closes

gas to energyThe largest landfill in the US shut it gates forever yesterday.

After 56 years of operation, the Puente Hills Landfill in southeastern Los Angeles County has collected around 130 million tons of waste since 1957 and is 40 stories high in some places, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Puente Hills first opened in 1957 as the private San Gabriel Valley Dump. The Sanitation Districts purchased the landfill in 1970 for a regional disposal facility. The conditional use permit, issued by Los Angeles County, required the site to close upon completion of the final fill design or on Oct. 31, 2013, whichever occured first.

The dump has employed numerous environmental approaches including generating electricity from landfill gas (pictured), managing materials recovery and recycling programs, dedicating the landfill property to a regional park after closure, and acquiring and maintaining local native habitat as open space, the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County says. In addition, the facility included extensive practices to manage odors, dust and birds, and provided landscaping to blend with the native habitat.

It is estimated that it will take 12 to 18 months for construction of the final cover and to complete other closure work. After it’s finished, filled areas of the landfill will be made available to Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation for development of a park. The Sanitation Districts will continue to maintain and monitor the landfill for at least 30 years or longer to protect public health and the environment.

But the closure means that one third of Los Angeles County’s trash needs a new resting place. In the short term, operations will be ramped-up at two other district refuse collection sites. At these sites recyclable materials are separated and eventually sold overseas. The separated landfill will be sent to two different landfills in Orange County, the paper reports.

Long-term plans will see waste being shipped via rail car to an abandoned gold mine 220 miles away in Imperial County, the paper reports.

Earlier this week the Associated Press reported that Russia’s national rail monopoly has been dumping waste from construction projects associated with the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, breaking a zero waste pledge the country made as a central pillar of its Olympic bid.

Photo Credit: Heidi De Vries via Flickr, Wikipedia 

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