Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Little Snafu with New Landfill

What’s going on with the infamous new landfill project for the Unified Disposal District? Back on February 29th of 2010 the Corrector reported that the bids were in for the dirt work at the new landfill with the low bid of $677,995 received from Advance Earthworks of Stevensville. The Blaine County Journal at that time quoted district landfill coordinator Clay Vincent as saying the disposal District was ready to begin the next phase of the project which was erecting a new building and upgrading the road from Hi-Way 2 east of Havre.

When Unified Disposal aquired this property which consists of around 80 acres they paid close to $1,500 per acre.  On July 18th of 2010 the Corrector reported that the earth moving was well underway at the new landfill site. On August 5th the Havre Daily “News” ran an article quoting Vincent as saying the new dump would be operational by spring. The article also said the bids were in for the new building at the site and work was progressing on the road that will connect Hi-Way 2 to the landfill.

One week later on August 11th the HDN broke the news that American Wind and Wheat Farms LLC had filed suit in District Court to stop the road from being built across their land. Hill County contends that they are using a “road” that was created in 1914 to connect the landfill to Hi-Way 2 while American Wind and Wheat’s complaint contends the road is not legal and no road was created in 1914.

Further information obtained by the Corrector states that a petition was filed in 1914 asking that land for a road be gratuitously donated across sections 6 and 7 Township 17 east 32 north. (Correction 8/31/11– the petition was only filed for section 7 – no petition found on section 6) In 1914 two women (Lillian Heenan and Mary Auld) owned the land in sections 5 and 6 and there is no documentation that they ever signed over any property for this road however I can remember there being a field trail across some of this land that the farmer used for his machinery and harvest clear back when I was in high school. My pals and I used to go out there on occasion to hoist a few beers as minors out of sight of law enforcement and we always assumed we were trespassing on private property as the alleged “road” was a field trail that went from Hi-Way 2 to the Clear Creek road and actually at times had wheat seeded into it. This lawsuit has been dragging on for over a year and is scheduled to hit the court within days according to our source. In spite of this pending lawsuit the county has gone ahead and spent vast amounts of money to construct this road anyway although the graveling of said road has not been completed. So if they lose in court do they have to haul all the materials they have used to build this road back out?

Even with these road “issues” why wasn’t the dump operational this spring? The Unified Disposal trucks can still take the secondary route out through 13th Avenue to the Clear Creek road. Well it seems that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has some “issues” with the new landfill pits and related drainage. According to a report dated June 30, 2011 and attached as a PDF file here the Hill County Commissioners were served a letter by certified mail stating that the landfill was in violation of its permit. violations include:
• failure to maintain records and reports
• failure to submit required permit information
• failure to conduct inspections in violation of the Monitoring and report requirements
• failure to install Best Management Practices (BMP) in violation of Part II Effluent Limitations
• Failure to maintain BMP in violation of the storm water pollution protection plan
• Failure to even have a storm water pollution prevention plan
Read the whole report here (this is a PDF and takes a couple minutes to load)

The Unified Disposal District had until July 29th to respond to these violations and we are told they have failed to comply. The letter states that noncompliance constitutes a violation of the Montana Water Quality Act and is grounds for enforcement action and permit revocation. It goes on to say the landfill management needs to take necessary steps to correct these problems which have a “reasonable likelihood of adversely affecting human health or the environment.” Furthermore this violation notice “will result in the loss of your eligibility for a 25% reduction in your annual fee.” Just how much is this fee?

The details of the report went on to point out numerous problems involving containment and drainage issues. Our source reports that not only is the landfill in violation of these standards but they pumped thousands of gallons of water from the landfill site this spring damaging adjacent farm ground. If the new landfill can’t even contain its sediment and runoff when it is empty what is going to happen when it is full of polluted garbage? You don’t suppose any of that pollution will affect the water table or people down coulee from this site do you?

Why do all of our local governmental bureaucrats always have to keep vital information from the taxpaying population? Is it just Havre or are all of them like this?


  1. I was just wondering if this project was done. Building the road seems kind of presumptious when you have no legal easment yet

  2. I remember something about how they picked that spot because it wouldnt need a liner. Sounds like it needs a liner now.

  3. Didn’t people living in the area already have concerns about water wells becoming contaminated? Since the dump serves more than one county who is responsible?

    I would bet my hunting rifle that the whole construction project is over budget.

  4. I drove out by the new landfill the other day and noticed they had a scale installed. Does anyone know what it is for? Are we soon to be charged for anything hauled to our new landfill?

  5. I think the people that demolish building and haul them to the dump are going to have to pay by the #

  6. You're right on there Watchdog, yes the scale is so they can charge. They discussed this at the permitting hearing in the fall of 2009.

    What's interesting about this whole article is that many of these same issues were brought up by concerned citizens at that hearing and we were all told that everything would be fine because this was "good ole fashioned Montana gumbo." I remember that being said over and over again. DEQ didn't listen then, sure glad they're finally starting to look into these complaints now that we're almost $1,000,000 into the project, I mean why would you worry about these things in the planning stages, right? I mean come on!