Sunrise Mountain Landfill enters key construction phase

Construction workers are beginning large-scale improvements on a shuttered landfill dubbed an eco-disaster in 1998 after floodwaters ripped open its earthen cap and sent heaps of refuse into the Las Vegas Wash and Lake Mead.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency said the $25 million construction project at Sunrise Mountain Landfill is entering its most important phase and should be finished by early next year.

The landfill's operator, Republic Services of Southern Nevada, was ordered in 2008 to install extensive stormwater controls, an armored cover and a gas monitoring system at its 440-acre solid waste site just outside of Las Vegas.

EPA officials say the improvements are necessary to protect the area's drinking water.

Sunrise was closed in 1993 after taking in 25 million tons of waste.