‘Closed’ Carbondale landfill still active, according to state records
CARBONDALE, Colorado – When Carbondale Public Works Director Larry Ballenger oversaw what he thought was the final state inspection of the town’s old landfill in August 2005, he was pleased to bring to an end Carbondale’s obligation for the reclaimed dump site.
“The state inspector provided the town with a glowing report and gave us kudos for maintaining the site in good condition,” Ballenger indicated in an Aug. 19 memo to the Carbondale Board of Trustees.
“She told us that it would be her last inspection, and she would close the Certificate of Designation on the site,” he explained.
So, the old town dump would no longer be the town’s responsibility. The town officially closed the dump, which is off of County Road 100 north of Highway 82, on June 30, 1993, after having leased the site from a private landowner for several decades.
The town closed the landfill when the new EPA Section D requirements were implemented, Ballenger said in a follow-up interview.
“There were some pretty stringent requirements to keep it open, so the town at the time decided to close it,” he said.
Had the town waited until October of that year when the new requirements were implemented, it would have had a 30-year obligation. As it was, by closing a few months earlier, the town was only responsible for 10 years worth of post-closure inspections.
So, after that verbal exchange with the state inspector in 2005, Ballenger said he was surprised when the town received an invoice from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in April of this year for $1,000 to pay for another annual post-closure inspection.
He called the Denver office about the billing, which was the first the town had received since 2005. Denver officials asked that the town obtain its file from the Grand Junction office where the inspector was from and prove that the landfill had been officially closed. However, the regional office had no such record.
“The new state environmental inspector in Grand Junction agreed to perform another final inspection to officially close the landfill,” Ballenger explained in his memo.
The inspection took place on Aug. 4, with permission from property owner Harold Blue, according to Ballenger.
“When we arrived at the landfill site, I was sickened to see approximately 250,000 to 500,000 cubic yards of construction and demolition debris dumped on the site,” he went on to explain. “Almost one-quarter of the 35-acre site was covered with broken concrete, bricks, asphalt, boulders, etc., from construction sites.”
That, of course, led to a “serious discussion” with the state inspector as to who was responsible for what appeared to be a new dump site.
“I argued that the town officially closed the landfill in 1993 and performed the required maintenance for the 10-year responsibility requirement,” Ballenger said. The last lease payment to the landowner was in 1994, he said.
Although the inspector indicated that the town could ultimately be held responsible since the Certificate of Designation is still active with the state, Ballenger said he has been compiling records to show that the town did its part to meet its obligation for final closure of the facility.
Ballenger said he and the inspector stopped by the landowner’s house on their way out, and he indicated he had been paid by a local contractor to dispose of construction debris on the site.
In the meantime, the town may also get some help from Garfield County, which is preparing a notice of violation for the alleged illegal dump site, according to county code compliance officer Gale Carmony.
“At this time, I do not know where the state will go with this,” Ballenger concluded in his memo to the town trustees.
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