State issues Twin Enviro’s Milner Landfill compliance advisory
State directs landfill to tighten procedures
Steamboat Springs — Twin Enviro Resources owner Les Liman met with Routt County officials Aug. 30 as they participated in a conference call with inspectors from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, who have issued a compliance order requiring Liman and his staff to respond to a list of nine “deficiencies” found during a May 12 inspection at Twin Enviro’s Milner Landfill west of Steamboat Springs.
The deficiencies were detailed in an Aug. 8 compliance letter to Twin Enviro Chief Financial Officer Marlin Mullett from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. They ranged from “uncovered” asbestos near the landfill’s confined asbestos handling area to ineffective storm water control practices that allowed soils and likely unfinished organic compost materials to be trapped in snow removal piles to run into a nearby wetland.
Liman said the date of the inspection came at a challenging time, when the landfill site was in a period of significant precipitation even as snowmelt was taking place, which compounded issues such as storm water management.
“This summer, we built berms to ensure that doesn’t happen again,” Liman said after the meeting.
He added that the landfill is typically inspected on an annual basis, and it’s not unusual for inspections to result in a finding of some deficiencies that need to be corrected.
The CDPHE and Routt County share oversight of the landfill — the county issued and monitors the permit; the CDPHE has a regulatory role.
The 2016 inspection was made by the CDPHE’s Curt Stovall and Brian Long, who took part in the conference call. Long told the commissioners that Twin Enviro’s responses to the the compliance orders to date date have been satisfactory.
“I’ve started reviewing the submittal by Twin, and for the most part, I’ve been happy with the responses they are providing,” he said.
The compliance order required Twin Enviro to respond to some of the deficiencies within seven days, and Liman said that has happened. In other cases, the timeframe in which to respond is longer. Liman said his staff is continuing to perform due diligence, even as it prioritizes the need to open a new lined pit at the landfill by winter.
“I don’t want this meeting to mischaracterize the Milner Landfill as a place that has big problems,” Liman said during the conference call. “Without a doubt, we’ll take care of these issues.”
The inspection also raises concerns about how the landfill handles energy drilling waste, which can sometimes contain the known carcinogen, benzene.
The landfill accepts “energy and exploration liquids, or E&P, from energy drilling operations, though Liman said the volume has dropped off substantially in recent years. E&P liquids generated by drilling operations are exempted from federal hazardous waste regulations by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. But E&P waste, which can sometimes contain benzene, is still limited by concentration, according to the CDPHE findings.
The CDPHE inspectors noted that E&P is typically handled at the landfill by mixing it with fly ash to solidify it. They found both ash and liquids present in the treatment area but saw no activity taking place in the solidification basin at the Milner landfill at the time of their inspection.
“The one that’s the scariest is benzene,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said. “It would be an open question for Routt County to decide if an open (treatment) regimen is adequate or if it should be more robust.”
Liman responded that, in his mind, there are two ways to gauge the presence of benzene: One is concentration — parts per million or billion — and the other is volume.
“We are extremely sensitive to the presence of benzene,” Liman said. “It’s found naturally in places in Colorado but also found in oil and gas.”
The Milner landfill’s compliance officer, Luke Schneider, said he does not accept trucks delivering liquids that have not first been tested for chemical components.
Cowman pointed out that, currently, the county does not collect tipping fees in connection with liquid waste delivered to the landfill. There was some sentiment among commissioners to revisit the landfill’s permit to discuss those tipping fees, potentially to generate funds to buffer Routt County Road 205 and a bridge over the Yampa River, which carry the heavy traffic leading to the landfill.
“There is a nexus there to the long-term maintenance and repair of the bridge,” Corrigan said. “Whenever anyone comes in with a (permit) application, the thing we jump to is the impact on the road and bridge,” budget.
“I’d like to see asphalt on that road,” Commissioner Doug Monger said.
Another area of concern for the CDPHE inspectors was that missing groundwater monitoring records had not been submitted to the CDPHE in connection with groundwater monitoring records of tests for any chemical compounds that may have leached from material in the landfill and been transported by rainfall.
Liman told Steamboat Today following the meeting that the uncovered asbestos cited in the inspection report was both wetted and double-bagged, as required, but had yet to be covered with soil (within the required 24 hours) at the time of the inspection. He said he employs one equipment operator who dons a hazmat suit to do the work of covering the bagged asbestos. That employee undergoes regular medical checkups in order to be certified to work with asbestos.
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The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a winter storm warning for much of the West Slope ahead of a major weather system expected in the area starting Thursday.