An underground fire is smoldering at a former landfill site in Washington. It is now a Superfund cleanup site.
It’s not the first time an underground reaction has occurred at the site. An earlier fire took two years to extinguish.
The former landfill is a Superfund site because in the 1970s people started dumping industrial waste at the site. It’s estimated that 35,000 drums of hazardous substances are buried at the facility.
A very small percentage of municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills in North America have reported elevated and increasing temperatures above those normally associated with a “hot gas well.” Temperatures above 150°F or even 250°F have been reported in some cases. Some of these elevated temperature landfills (ETLFs), have received industrial wastes that may release heat, while others have not. Considerable uncertainty exists regarding why some landfills exhibit elevated and increasing temperatures.
The situation in Washington bears some similarity to Bridgeton (Mo.) Sanitary Landfill, where an exothermic reaction has been occurring for the past seven years.
Recently, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency met with area residents in to provide an update on efforts to clean up the West Lake Landfill. Earlier this month, those officials have announced that they are going to conduct further testing for radioactive contamination at the West Lake Landfill.
KOUW has the story:
The Washington Department of Ecology says the smoldering waste is not an immediate threat to people.
“We are working with the parties responsible for Pasco Landfill cleanup to safely address the fire situation," the department said in a mailer sent to people who live nearby.
This landfill fire was discovered after temperatures spiked in the area. Workers dug a borehole deep into the pile and brought up charred bits of waste.
The charred waste was at least 15 to 20 feet underground.