Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Let's Talk About Garbage ...

It's the landfill that keeps on going and going and going. No, you can't take garbage to the Sunrise landfill anymore. But it's still there, and still not permanently closed and capped, as the Environmental Protection Agency says it should be.
Sunrise landfill stopped accepting trash back in 1993. It "closed" in 1995. In 1997 Republic Services decided to buy Silver State Disposal, which included the Sunrise landfill. Now Republic owns it. If you weren't around in 1998, it was a bad flood year in the Las Vegas Valley. So bad, the water forced contaminants from the Sunrise Landfill ... downstream. The EPA came up with a plan to cap and seal and monitor the landfill, so it wouldn't happen again. Republic says the estimate to do that work was originally $36 million. Now, about 10 years later, it could cost another $30 million. So, Republic wants help. The county has been cool to the idea of raising rates to pay for the cleanup. It did agree to extend Republic's franchise agreement in the county until 2035, in exchange for cleaning up the landfill. See our original story on the situation here. Republic says that isn't enough. Republic also gets a rate increase every July 1, based on how much the consumer price index has gone up. That's not enough.

On June 20th, Republic sent a letter to the county saying if it didn't allow for a rate increase, Republic would increase something called "tipping fees" on its own. "Tipping Fees" are what Republic charges to get rid of garbage at its landfills and transfer stations. Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani doesn't think Republic can do that without county approval. So the standoff begins. Commissioners will take up the issue July 15th.

Some other information you might find useful. Republic owns a lot of landfills .. 58 in 21 states, so it should be familiar with the cost of capping and closing landfills. As part of the franchise agreement, Republic has to release its financials to the county every year. In 2007, Republic had revenue of just about $274 million dollars for its operation in Southern Nevada. It shows $34 million dollars in profit.

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