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Firm will put cap on Sunrise landfill

Work will begin this summer to seal a 440-acre landfill with a long, troubled history.

After years of wrangling with Clark County and regulators, Republic Services will place a durable cap on Sunrise landfill, a trash site that was called an eco-disaster when floodwaters ripped open its earthen cap in 1998 and sent heaps of fetid refuse into the Las Vegas Wash.

The company will take bids from contractors in May to cover the site with 3 feet of dirt and rock from a nearby Bureau of Land Management quarry.

Crews will install a drainage system with dams, channels and a basin to curb erosion around the garbage pit closed in 1993 after taking in 25 million tons of waste.

The $20 million project is set to begin in late August and should be finished in 2012, said Bob Coyle, the company’s area president. “In two years we’ll see if we can close it.”

The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved engineering plans for the permanent cap and drainage, he said. Coyle said the company is paying all the costs and will decide whether to ask the county for reimbursement, a source of legal feuding in the past.

The trash hauler agreed in 2008 to pay $1 million in penalties and erase the dump site’s hazards. It also must monitor the site for 30 years.

Company officials have said they are responsible for $36 million of the site’s $70 million mitigation costs.

The $36 million estimate was given in 1999 when the company agreed to fix the site in return for the county extending its contract through 2035.

Two years ago, county commissioners discussed imposing a surcharge on trash service to help cover the costs of site work. They later shelved the proposal indefinitely.

County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani is “thrilled” the company is capping the trash pit but would oppose forcing taxpayers to cover any of the costs.

When Republic Services merged with Allied Waste in late 2008, the landfill was not listed as a notable liability, she said. Plus, three executives received a total of $40 million in bonuses, showing the company doesn’t need subsidies.

After the site is deemed safe, it will be transferred to the county.

Giunchigliani said she would like to see it turned into a solar farm. “I think we could do a photo-voltaic project and create jobs and generate electricity.”

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland
@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

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