Routt County approves new permit for Milner Landfill |

Routt County approves new permit for Milner Landfill

Les Liman, owner of Twin Enviro Services that operates the Milner Landfill, pictured here inspecting recycling in 2016.
Steamboat Pilot & Today Archive

The Routt County Board of Commissioners approved an updated special use permit for the Milner Landfill on Tuesday, changing it from one that extends the whole life of the facility to one that would need to be renewed in five years.

If the landfill, operated by Twin Enviro Services, is able to have three inspections without any major issues, and there are not changes to the permit, it could be renewed for another five years administratively.

“This allows the county more oversight,” said County planner Alan Goldich.

Commissioners unanimously approved the updated permit after the Routt County Planning Commission approved it unanimously last month. The permit was last updated in 2019.

The landfill has been running since the 1970s, but it first got a special use permit in 1984. The landfill is regulated at both the county level and by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division.

The 170-acre landfill includes trash deposit areas, a compost facility, liquid waste collection tanks, recycling, vehicle and equipment storage, gravel and clay extraction areas and the Milner Mall, which sells secondhand goods seasonally.

The landfill has had multiple environmental violations in recent years. In 2016, state officials issued a compliance advisory and consent order containing deadlines for when issues needed to be resolved. But another state inspection in 2017 revealed more issues.

In 2018, the landfill’s solidification basin, used to dump hazardous liquid and mix with ash until it is a solid and can be added to the landfill, was the source of multiple violations. Meetings with commissioners and planning commission at that time resulted in the landfill not being able to accept liquid waste until it replaced the system, which it has since done.

Overall, there have been nine compliance advisories or consent orders issued to the landfill over the past 18 years, a frequency that state officials consider to be “higher than other landfills,” Goldich said.

A county inspection last October showed there were two illegal septic vaults on the property, and some trash was not given appropriate soil cover as outlined in state regulations.

After the 2016 compliance issues, Twin Enviro and state regulators have been working to revise the engineering design and operation plan for the landfill, which outlines how it will be operated and closed in the future. CDPHE approved this plan last year with county review.

“Most of the issues that were identified in 2016 and 2017 have been addressed in the revised (plan),” Goldich said.

The new permit with the county was the first to go through the planning process since the adoption of the county’s Climate Action Plan, Goldich said. Due to this, one condition in the new permit requires the landfill to report amounts of waste that are diverted, recycled or composted.

The permit requires sight mitigation, too, specifically for blue and white portable toilets and dumpsters that are visible from U.S. Highway 40.

The landfill will also be required to allow the county to conduct annual aerial surveys of the site to measure the amount of airspace — the volume that added trash takes up — it consumes each year. Goldich said this would ideally be conducted with a drone.

Les Liman, owner of the landfill, said he feels an annual survey goes overboard because the landfill likely wouldn’t change much year to year, but County Environmental Health Director Scott Cowman said be feels it would be useful information and could assist in oversight. The county will pay for these surveys, which cost about $2,000.

“A landfill is something that needs certain checks and balances because of the environmental impact it can have on our communities,” said Commissioner Tim Redmond. “This is information the county needs.”

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