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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Trash increases, Landfill expanding

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Photo by Clover Birdsell Bulldozers at the IESI landfill in Ash Flat remove red dirt from what will be the foundation of its third landfill cell. Layers of plastic, woven material and earth will be layered into the cell before trash is deposited. Completion of the cell is expected in November.
IESI landfill on the eastern edge of Fulton County continues to expand, creating more room to serve the northern Arkansas and southern Missouri area.

The success of a landfill is measured by every environmental agency in the country. "Most of it is just management," Smith said. "It's expensive. It's a matter of keeping your landfill in regulation."

A third landfill cell is being constructed at the landfill.

"The area we are in right now is the only area left that we will have to handle the trash left in the landfill purchased by IESI," said Rod Smith, district manager for IESI. Piles of trash mixed with red dirt have been unearthed at the landfill, trash that prior to federal landfill regulation was deposited directly into the soil of the landfill.

In preparation for the deposit of trash into a new third cell, layers of plastic, woven mesh, gravel, clay and soil are laid before trash can be deposited. Two feet of red clay -- rock-free and impermeable -- is the base of each landfill cell. Then a heavy black plastic roll is laid across the clay foundation, fused together by heat after it is installed, Smith said.

Samples of plastic liner were stored in a box in Smith's office. It was the consistency of tar, dried hard about a quarter of an inch thick.

After the plastic layer is laid and fused together with heat, a woven layer with felt backing acting as a strainer for the bottom of the landfill cell. Two feet of gravel then soil are spread out above the woven layer.

Residual liquid from the trash is collected and reinstituted at the top of the landfill cell, which aids in the compaction process, Smith said.

After the landfill cell has been filled, which will be two years at the landfill's current rate, the cell is closed with the same black plastic material as used on its bottom. This process seals the cell completely from its outside environment. IESI will then remain liable for the soundness of the cell's structure for 30 years following, Smith said.

"It's still protected and it's the best thing we have right now," Smith said.

IESI began in 1995 by Mickey Flood of Justin, Texas, as a family business. Today the company has grown to the sixth largest waste management company in the United States, operating 11 states and Canada, as a billion dollar company.

On Oct. 16, 1998, the Cherokee Village landfill was purchased by IESI as the first municipal solid waste landfill the company owned. IESI in Ash Flat collects for a large area -- six counties in southern Missouri and three transfer stations subleased through appropriate counties, near Heber Springs, north of Mountain Home and near Batesville, Smith said.

An average of 210 tons of trash is trucked into IESI from the outlying transfer stations and counties, he said.

The large landfill operation is handled by IESI as a responsible service for the waste management needs of an entire region.

"You got to be real about it, and you have to do whatever you can do to protect the environment," Smith said.

Eight groundwater wells surrounding the landfill are tested by an independent firm twice a year to make sure ground water is not contaminated. Water that runs off the IESI property must be tested within 72 hours of a rain, Smith said.

Volunteer cattail plants in the drainage ditch run off water from the landfill aid in the filtration of the water before leaving the property.

An IESI landfill outside of New York City captures enough methane gas from its landfill to fuel an entire town nearby, Smith said. The methane produced at IESI in Ash Flat is not enough to capture. "I don't even think I can run a barbecue grill with it right now," Smith said.

Through U.S. legislation, the creation and implementation of a methane capture system at IESI allows the company to collect carbon tags from its proactive measure to rid the local environment of all methane byproduct of the landfill, Smith said.

The carbon tags then can be sold to other companies, such as a power plant, which would allow that company to disburse its own carbon in trade for the tag.

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