Alamo residents gathered for a public comment hearing with the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, regarding a request for a modification to a Class I permit to Western Elite Landfill. The public comment period ends June 18. (Dave Maxwell photo)

Alamo residents gathered for a public comment hearing with the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, regarding a request for a modification to a Class I permit to Western Elite Landfill. The public comment period ends June 18. (Dave Maxwell photo)

Most all the seats in the Alamo Annex courtroom were filled for a public hearing conducted by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) regarding a request for a permit modification to the Western Elite Landfill facility, about 35 miles south of Alamo on U.S. Highway 93.

Western Elite is requesting a modification to permit (SW277) to include Class I materials (municipal and human wastes) on the eastern portion of their existing landfill footprint. The western portion of the site will remain a Class III landfill and no change to the size of the 80-acre site is being considered at this time. NDEP is proposing to approve the permit modification request.

The meeting was for the purpose of taking of public comment only, no discussion or debate on the issues was held.

Art Gravinstein and Jon Taylor with the Division of Environmental Protection Bureau of Waste Management in Carson City conducted the meeting. Taylor, who is the permit writer for all of Nevada, except Clark and Washoe counties, said the public comment period, either written or oral, ends June 18.

Written comments may be sent to his office at 901 S. Stewart St., Suite 4001 Carson City, NV. 89701-5249, by email: jtaylor@ndep.nv.gov; or web: http://ndep.nv.gov/admin/public.htm. He said he hopes to be able to make a decision on or before July 18.

Many of the Lincoln County people who gave public comment said they were in favor of Western Elite being granted the permit modification, although some said they were concerned about the amount of trash, rocks and dirt that is on the highway at present from trucks coming in from Las Vegas.

A few people said rocks kicked up by the trucks had broken their windshield. One person said Western Elite was very helpful in paying for a replacement windshield, but another person complained Western Elite did absolutely nothing for their broken windshield.

Bonnie Poulsen, of Alamo, said she had gathered 96 signatures of local people in support of the permit modification and it would be a great asset for the community.

Taylor said in preparation for requesting the Class I permit, Western Elite has put in place on the eastern side, “a restrictive liner with three-feet of clay underneath and raised the bottom of the landfill up 10 feet to get farther away from the groundwater, plus installed more groundwater and methane monitoring wells, and a specific waste analysis plan.” He said, “This will now allow them to take the stuff you put in your trash cans.”

Gravinstein said if NDEP issues the permit change, county commissioners still have to issue a conditional use permit to allow the operations to begin.

County Planning Director Cory Lytle said further decisions would be made after the final comments and recommendations are given by NDEP. “We will work with Western Elite, some of the concerned citizens and stakeholders and come back with what the Planning Commission feels is a good recommendation to the County Commissioners.”

Some attending the meeting were opposed to the permit modification request and asked that NDEP deny the request.

Joseph Cacioppo, vice-president with Resource Concepts Inc. in Carson City, said the proposed Class I expansion is in Desert Tortoise habitat and the Class I waste stream would have the potential to attract ravens, a major predator of the Desert Tortoise.

In addition, the permit would be located within the Pahranagat Wash flood plane, and flooding there could possibly have environmental impacts onto about 3,000 square miles of land downstream. He suggested a more thorough analysis of what the impacts might be needed to be done.

Emilia Cargill, senior vice president and general counsel with Coyote Springs Investment (CSI) gave a summary of her 10 pages of comments giving a number of scientific and legal reasons NDEP should deny of the permit modification request.

She noted the landfill property is directly across U.S. 93 at the northern edge of the CSI property, “literally right across from future intended residential houses and developments.”

She said CSI believes Western Elites permit request made to NDEP “contained inaccurate information and was not a correct legal application for a Class I permit.”

She outlined concerns about sewer systems, septic systems, holding tanks that had been listed as not having valid permits, and she did not know if any of these issues had been corrected.

“CSI is concerned possible flooding involving the landfill could cause damage in the Pahranagat Wash and for waters within Coyote Springs, for fish and wildlife, for conservation mitigation, multi-species habitat protection and preservation, as well as possible groundwater contamination,” Cargill said.

She said the development agreement CSI has with Lincoln County states “the County will not agree to a facility such as a Class I landfill within 10 miles of Coyote Springs border.” The southern edge of the Coyote Springs development is only 11 miles away from Western Elite and does include the Coyote Springs Golf Course, which handles about 25,000 rounds of golf per year.

In addition, she said Lincoln County has a contract in effect with Recology to not agree to another Class I landfill except the one at Crestline.

She mentioned CSI was also concerned what odors and unpleasant gasses might emanate from a Class I landfill so close to their property.

If the permit request is approved, Cargill said CSI would request that Western Elite would have to consult with Nevada Department of Transportation regarding traffic safety and trash along the highway.

Cargill also asked NDEP, “to do the public hearing process over again and require Western Elite to submit a valid legal application (including certain permit conditions), prepare a traffic study from NDOT, contact the state water engineer to confirm the permanent water supply for a Class I facility, and consult with other potential regulatory agencies such as the Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, BLM, and others.”

Seth Carlson, an administrative law partner with Kaempfer Crowell in Reno, representing Pardee Homes, the master residential developer at Coyote Springs, also requested the Class I permit be denied.

He said, “As a matter of law, the process that Western Elite has taken to modify its permit we think is inconsistent with administrative procedure,” and gave a number of reason as to why.

He noted Pardee Homes was also concerned about the increased amount of traffic, primarily garbage trucks, coming up the highway to the landfill. “Traffic is only going to get worse, the sides of the road are only going to get worse.” In addition, Pardee Homes have serious concerns about potential flooding and the damage to surface and groundwater in their development areas.