By Gail Parsons
DCNT News Editor
In January, when Kansas Department of Health and Environment revoked the permits for Blixt Landfill, it did so only after several years of facility operators failing to meet KDHE requirements.
According to documents received by Dickinson County News-Times following a Kansas Open Records Act request to KDHE, the order to close the landfill, on Sage Road just outside of Chapman, stem from violations first noted during an inspection more than three years ago.
“The history of the site is quite long and complicated,” said Julie Coleman, director of KDHE Bureau of Waste Management. “Since December of 2018, our inspectors have been to this construction, demolition landfill on multiple occasions, and the agency (KDHE) has issued multiple orders requiring violations from each of those inspections to be addressed.”
In March 2019, KDHE assessed penalties and ordered corrective actions pertaining to 14 violations found during the Dec. 4, 2018 inspection.
After failing to comply with the March 2019 order, KDHE took Blixt Landfill owner Jeff Blixt to court, in July of that year, to order compliance.
However, by September of the following year, Blixt Landfill had yet to take all of the necessary corrective actions or pay the accessed fines.
“We have at least six documented inspections over a two-year period,” Coleman said. “And in … several of those inspections, either repeat occurrences of a previous violation were cited or new violations were cited. The bottom line is that the corrective actions we were requiring … were not being implemented.”
Subsequent inspections in February and October 2019, and September 2020, revealed 31 additional violations, according to the KDHE documents.
When KDHE inspects a construction landfill they look to ensure it is managed in a way to prevent the development of conditions that could have a negative impact on the environment or pose a risk to public health and safety, Coleman said.
“The regulations that govern how a landfill should be operated are all intended to be preventative or preemptive,” she said.
Some of the violations at Blixt Landfill that are conducive to a negative impact include failing to put adequate soil cover over the active area of the landfill where waste is being disposed of.
“That repeated lack of adequate cover is a particular concern,” Coleman said. “And placing materials in the landfill that are not authorized to be disposed of at a construction and demolition landfill is conducive to the development of conditions that can create public nuisances or environmental impacts.”
Blixt was also cited for having an excessive number of tires on the site, which were not processed; not adequately compacting waste; and not adequately controlling stormwater running onto and off of the landfill.
“That’s just … very fundamental operational expectations of a landfill — that all of those things be controlled very well to prevent the development of conditions that could then promote or support a nuisance or an environmental impact,” Coleman said.
While several of the violations Blixt was cited for can impact the environment or pose health risks, to the best of her knowledge, none of the violations have reached that extent, Coleman said.
“There are conditions out there that are conducive but I’m not aware of any current, immediate or direct impact to health or environment,” she said.
Among other violations, according to the documents, the landfill failed to post required information at the entrance of the facility, maintain certain records, submit reports and fees, and submit adequate financial assurance.
Financial assurance provides the funds needed to properly close a facility when its operational life is over. The $152,230 financial assurance Blixt had on file with KDHE failed to meet the $237,737.94 estimate they had submitted in 2020. Additionally, KDHE had revised the financial assurance to $272,124.41.
Closing the landfill
When KDHE ordered the landfill to close, Blixt could have appealed the decision. However, the Feb. 4 deadline to do so, came and went.
The order included several actions Blixt was required to perform and carried varying deadlines. A letter dated March 1 listed three actions, which were not completed by the deadlines, and two pending actions with a March 21 deadline.
The letter stated KDHE was providing Blixt a, “Final opportunity for you to take responsibility for the landfill.”
“Those actions have not been taken, at the very least we’ve not been notified that any of those actions have been taken,” Coleman said on March 25. “We are moving forward with our plan to go on-site to assess exactly what corrective actions are needed at this time and that can be completed with the financial assurance that we have, and then we’ll retain a contractor to do that.”
A phone request for comment from Blixt Landfill was not returned.