Agreement Closes North Tulsa Landfill

A Tulsa landfill with a history of environmental violations has ceased operations as part of an agreement to curb the environmental and public health dangers caused by its negligent operating practices, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Steve Thompson and Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said today.

Under the agreement, the North Tulsa Sanitary Landfill has and will remain closed until it becomes fully compliant with state law.

The state estimates the costs for bringing the site into compliance will exceed $3.7 million. The landfill locked its gates on Friday.

“This landfill is an environmental and public health hazard,” Edmondson said. “Contamination is leaching into the surface water and groundwater, and litter is blowing into Bird Creek. Closing the landfill is an important first step in cleaning up this area.”

In addition, DEQ inspections discovered waste buried in the landfill was burning, potentially releasing hazardous and toxic smoke into the environment.

DEQ’s concerns about the site, located at 4215 E. 56th St. N., date back more than 10 years, and the landfill has a history of fines, enforcement actions and litigation.

The agreement settles pending legal action involving a 2006 consent order which required the landfill to meet numerous environmental and compliance standards, including the construction of a new, DEQ-approved waste disposal cell. Despite the consent order, the new cell was never constructed, and in fact, the landfill never submitted an approvable plan.

At the state’s request, the Oklahoma County District Court in July ordered the landfill to cease operations, but, in defiance of court order, the landfill continued to accept waste and actually increased the daily amount of waste it took in. According to the state, after the July 6 order to cease operations the landfill took in an average of 550 tons of waste each day. The landfill was operating six days per week and earned about $10,000 per day, all in violation of court order.

A contempt of court trial concerning the landfill’s violation of the July closure order is delayed until February 2008 as part of today’s agreement. Today’s agreement does not affect any DEQ sanctions pending against the landfill.

Edmondson and Thompson said the state will pay close attention to activities at the landfill. Today’s agreement allows DEQ to monitor and inspect the site to ensure compliance and gives the agency full access to the landfill and its records. The agreement also allows DEQ to bar access to the site if any violations of the agreement are discovered.

Because state statutes require municipal solid waste be delivered to a state-approved landfill, Edmondson and Thompson said waste haulers should know that any delivery of waste to this landfill will be in violation of the court order and could subject them to civil penalties.

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