By Mason Curran
Ever wonder where the garbage actually goes when it leaves the house?
Provo, Mapleton, Springville, Salem and Spanish Fork make up the South Utah Valley Solid Waste District formed in 1991. All of the garbage from these cities is taken to the SUVSWD transfer station located in Springville where it is compacted and delivered to its final destination, the Alberta Landfill, five miles southwest of Utah Lake.
Both the transfer station and the landfill were built in 1991 after the Provo Landfill reached its capacity.
The transfer station and the landfill are both required to adhere to strict guidelines set forth by the EPA and the Department of Environmental Quality on the state level. These guidelines deal with the plastic lining at the bottom of the landfill, air quality and water.
Officials at the sites have hand-held testers that monitor the level of pollutants that are being put out into the air. These include dust, methane gas and fumes from the different pieces of equipment used. The levels are recorded in a log book and reported to the state yearly. State officials also occasionally spot-check the facility.
“These facilities were put in according to the best that technology and science has come up with,” said Richard Henry, District Manager of SUVSWD. “We”re in compliance of testing water and air quality to make sure that we are not losing anything. So far that”s been 100 percent.”
The EPA requires that the bottom of the landfill be lined with plastic that is 60 millimeters thick to prevent water seeping through the garbage and entering groundwater.
“There are problems with lots of water in humid and wet climates,” said Richard Terry, professor of Plant and Animal Science Department who worked with the old landfill that was where East Bay Golf Course is now. “The water percolates through the garbage and picks up pollutants,” Terry said.
Both Henry and Terry agree that the biggest environmental concern with landfills is water getting into the trash, seeping through the plastic lining and contaminating the groundwater.
Terry said that he considers the Alberta Landfill very safe because of the little rainfall that the area receives annually.
Other actions in place to prevent environmental problems include a 47-feet high fence around the landfill to prevent trash from blowing everywhere, contouring the landfill so that rain water runs off instead of sitting in the bottom of the landfill and having the trash covered daily with dirt.
“There is very little reason for concern to live next to a state of the art landfill because nothing escapes,” Henry said.
Price discounts are also given to those who cover their load with a tarp or something like unto it. This is to encourage covering loads to prevent trash blowing out of vehicles on their way to dump it.
Because of the quality of the facilities and the environmental protective measures, optimism is high that no serious problems will happen.
“The chances of having a problem here are very slim,” Henry said.