BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - The landfill on Neal Road serves an estimated 220,000 residents in Butte County. Crews at the site said they have seen a huge increase in traffic since the Camp Fire.
The facility took a direct hit from the fire, which burned over the top of the landfill. The landfill was closed for three days after the fire.
According to Eric Miller, manager of the Waste Management Division, nearly two miles of landfill gas collection lines and 35 landfill gas wells were destroyed. Nearly one mile of storm drainage culverts was also destroyed. The facility also lost power for a week and internet service for a month.
They operated on generators and via smartphones during that time. The fire, debris, ash and soil were very heavy and dense, and that created an engineering and traffic management challenges.
Miller said debris drop-off has been temporarily halted.
"The Cal OES clean-up activities were suspended this week due to rain, which of course means we didn’t receive that portion of Camp Fire waste," Miller said. "The rain delayed our ability to receive Alternative Program [private clean-up] waste for two days but we’re back on track. With drier weather forecasted next week, we anticipate ramping-up again after Memorial Day for the Cal OES Camp Fire waste deliveries."
Operators said their first priority is to serve Butte County garbage customers first but the Camp Fire has had a dramatic impact on operations.
Traffic is up 40%, and the landfill has gone from accepting roughly 500 to 600 tons per day to 5,000-6,000 tons per day.
Though the landfill is filling up more quickly than ever, Deputy Director Todd Storti said they are researching more ways to recycle and re-engineer the site to extend its life.
Storti said Butte County is working with local jurisdictions to develop recycling options to reduce waste. He said his top priority in the next two years is to set up clear guidelines so Butte County residents know how to recycle, what to recycle and where to recycle.