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Nevada Landfill Operator Agrees to $36M Plan to Close Landfill Site

Release Date: 08/07/2008
Contact Information: EPA (415) 203-2011, DOJ (202) 514-2007

Republic Services to pay $1 Million Civil Fine

WASHINGTON— Republic Services of Southern Nevada, the current operator of the Sunrise Mountain Landfill located in Clark County, Nev., has agreed to construct and operate a comprehensive remedy for the site and to pay a $1 million civil fine in order to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

The consent decree, filed today in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, requires Republic Services of Southern Nevada to implement extensive stormwater controls, an armored engineered cover, methane gas collection, groundwater monitoring, and long-term operation and maintenance.

“Today’s settlement will minimize the risk to Clark County residents from polluted water runoff and hazardous waste discharges from the Sunrise Mountain landfill,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement reflects the federal government's commitment to protecting valuable natural resources like Lake Mead and its watershed.”

The settlement will ensure effective long-term control of the landfill, which contains over 49 million cubic yards of waste. The remedy, which is expected to take roughly two years to build, will be designed to withstand a 200-year storm and is expected to cost over $36 million. Upon completion, the remedy is estimated to prevent the release of over 14 million pounds of contaminants annually, including stormwater pollutants, methane gas and landfill leachate.

“Landfill operators must ensure that effective safeguards are in place to protect the environment and nearby communities,” said Wayne Nastri, administrator of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “With today’s agreement, Republic is required to properly close the landfill and ensure long-term waste containment.”

Sunrise Landfill, a 440-acre closed municipal solid waste landfill, is located three miles outside of Las Vegas city limits. The landfill cover failed during a series of storms in September 1998, sending waste into the Las Vegas Wash. The landfill is located two miles above the Las Vegas Wash, which discharges directly into Lake Mead -- a primary drinking water resource for southern Nevada, including the Las Vegas metro area, as well as the lower Colorado River, the Phoenix metro area and southern California.

The landfill was operated on behalf of the County by entities related to Republic Services of Southern Nevada from the 1950’s through 1993. Following the landfill cover failure in 1998, the EPA ordered Republic Dumpco, a company related to Republic Services of Southern Nevada, and the Clark County Public Works Department to correct violations of the federal clean water laws and to immediately stabilize the site.

Sunrise Mountain Landfill is unlined and contains more than 49-million cubic yards of waste including: municipal solid waste, medical waste, sewage sludge, hydrocarbon-contaminated soils, asbestos, and construction waste.

The proposed consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html.

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