Landfill Fire Still Burning, City Gets Good News on Clean Up
By Gregg Hennigan, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa - It may be out of sight to the public, but the fire at the Iowa City landfill remains.
“It’s not out of my mind yet,” Rick Fosse, the city’s public works director, said Tuesday.
City staffers believe the two-month-old fire is out on the majority of the 7.5-acre-section of a landfill cell in which it was contained, but it is burning in spots underneath a clay layer being used as a suppressant, Fosse said.
The city got some good news this week, though. Based on lab results, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said it is not classifying the material that has burned as a “special waste,” Fosse said. That means the city can dispose of it at the landfill rather than taking special precautions and trucking it elsewhere.
The city has estimated the fire, which started May 26, will cause $4 million to $6 million in damage. Fosse said the DNR decision should keep that at the low end, around $4 million to $5 million.
Fosse said the city is still providing information to its insurance company, the Travelers Insurance Companies of Hartford, Conn., and has not received a final word on its coverage. Two insurance experts told The Gazette in June that the fire does not appear to be covered because the actual landfill is not mentioned in the city’s property insurance policy.
The fire is believed to have started after something hot was brought in with a load. What has been burning is the cell liner made up of shredded tires.
In early June, the city and a contractor, Environmental Restoration LLC, covered the tires with a layer of clay soil to suppress further burning.
The last flare-up occurred two weeks ago, as the city excavated part of the cell to restore some underground piping that handles runoff from the site. That’s also the last time the city opened up the clay cover, Fosse said.
The goal is to be able to clean up the site this fall and bid the reconstruction of the 14-acre cell over the winter. Construction could start next spring and be finished by the end of summer, Fosse said.
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