Routt County Approves New Milner Landfill Permit

Les Liman, owner of Twin Enviro Services which operates the Milner landfill, pictured here inspecting recycling in 2016.
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The Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved an updated special use permit for the Milner landfill, changing it from one that extends the entire life of the facility to one that is expected to be renewed in five years.

If the landfill, operated by Twin Enviro Services, can undergo three inspections without major problems and there is no modification of the permit, it could be renewed administratively for five years.

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

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

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

The 170-acre landfill includes waste drop-off areas, a composting facility, liquid waste collection tanks, recycling, vehicle and equipment storage, gravel and clay extraction areas and the Milner Mall, which sells second-hand goods seasonally.

The landfill has suffered multiple environmental damage in recent years. In 2016, state officials issued a compliance notice and consent order containing timelines for when the issues needed to be resolved. But another state inspection in 2017 revealed other problems.

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

Overall, nine compliance notices or consent orders have been issued at the landfill in the past 18 years, a frequency that state officials consider “higher than other landfills,” Goldich said.

A county inspection last October showed there were two illegal septic tanks on the property and some garbage had not received proper soil cover, as required by state regulations.

After compliance issues in 2016, Twin Enviro and state regulators worked to revise the landfill’s engineering design and operating plan, which outlines how it will be operated and closed in the future. The CDPHE approved this plan last year with a county review.

“Most of the issues that were identified in 2016 and 2017 have been resolved 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. For this reason, a condition of the new permit requires the landfill to report the amounts of waste diverted, recycled or composted.

The permit also requires sight dimming, specifically for blue and white portable toilets and dumpsters visible from US Highway 40.

The landfill will also be needed to allow the county to conduct annual aerial surveys of the site to measure how much airspace — the volume the additional waste takes up — it consumes each year. Goldich said this would ideally be done with a drone.

Landfill owner Les Liman said he thinks an annual survey is going too far because the landfill likely won’t change much from year to year, but county environmental health director Scott Cowman said he thought it would be useful information and could help with monitoring. The county will pay for these surveys, which cost around $2,000.

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


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