While the Iowa City landfill was closed to the public after it caught fire this weekend, another landfill in central Iowa is offering residents a chance to take a guided tour. Operators of the Metro Waste Authority recently started taking reservations for educational tours of the Polk County landfill.
Spokesperson, Reo Manning says they’ve got two bus tours of the state’s largest landfill scheduled for this month. Manning says they have given tours to a handful of people in the past and they always came away saying they would do things different after the tour, so they thought it would be good to offer the tour to more people.
The first 50-seat tour is already full and they are close to filling up the second. As for the tour, “It could be smelly, but typically you don’t notice any odor when you’re out there,” Manning says. “…they’ll get to see garbage being buried, they’ll get to see a closed landfill cell and how it’s monitored…they’ll get to see how we have restored wetlands and put in some prairies and some really good farming practices that have protected the water.”
Manning says people find out there’s more to it than just dumping the garbage in a big hole. She says the entire cell is lined with a plastic liner and then covered so holes don’t get poked into it, and it is covered so birds and animals don’t carry things away.
The landfill handles roughly one ton of garbage every day. “We’re the largest landfill in the state, so that means we get more garbage than everybody else and we have the resources then to also make sure we protect (the environment) and things that for other landfills doesn’t make sense for the amount of garbage they collect,” Manning explains. “For instance, we’re one of the few in the state that collects methane gas and convert it to electricity.”
She talks more about the methane gas collection. “We take the methane gas that gets created through the breakdown of garbage… and it’s taken to an energy conversion facility where it’s turned into electricity and it’s sold on the grid, and that powers homes in our area,” Manning says.
The first tour of the facility is set for June 8th, while the second is June 16th. Manning also adds that their landfill uses gravel as its base, not ground tires, which makes it less susceptible to a fire like the one that’s hit the Iowa City landfill.