New industrial landfill to open for business soonAt the moment, Cloquet’s newest landfill resembles a giant sandpit more than anything else. Nestled inside a massive circle of gravel pits, the Shamrock Environmental industrial landfill doesn’t have a speck of waste in it yet, just two feet of compacted clay, a 60 mm high-tech plastic liner and two more feet of sand on top. Buried in the sand is a system of leachate collection pipes, which collect rainwater and other moisture that drains to the bottom of the landfill so it can be treated.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
At the moment, Cloquet’s newest landfill resembles a giant sandpit more than anything else.
Nestled inside a massive circle of gravel pits, the Shamrock Environmental industrial landfill doesn’t have a speck of waste in it yet, just two feet of compacted clay, a 60 mm high-tech plastic liner and two more feet of sand on top. Buried in the sand is a system of leachate collection pipes, which collect rainwater and other moisture that drains to the bottom of the landfill so it can be treated.
It was peaceful there last Tuesday afternoon, as two men crisscrossed the sand in the first five-acre cell, working to complete the final phase of testing on the site using electricity to detect any leaks in the HDPE plastic liner.
John Domke, vice president of the SKB Environmental which oversees operations at the site, is hoping to keep the peace.
SKB missed the storm of public opposition to the landfill that dominated city politics last year, when the DemCon Companies’ Bill Keegan was the voice of Shamrock Environmental throughout nine months of public hearings, city council meetings and more.
In the months since the Cloquet City Council approved a conditional use permit for the landfill in February, DemCon sold its interest in Shamrock to the majority shareholder, Rich Gersdorf of Shamrock Disposal, a full-service construction and demolition debris management firm with a fleet of 20 trucks, over 700 containers and a state-of-the-art
ecycling facility. Gersdorf will still run the trucking arm of the new Shamrock Environmental Company, but he hired SKB Environmental to run the landfill itself.
SKB Environmental is a waste management company and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Carl Bolander and Sons, a large contracting company in the Twin Cities. Originally set up to arrange cost-
effective disposal services for Carl Bolander and Sons, over the past 25 years, SKB has either built or acquired a number of construction and demolition (C&D) landfills, an industrial landfill, a municipal landfill, a yard-waste composting operation and built up an extensive C&D recycling system around the Twin Cities. Domke said SKB is one of the largest privately owned waste companies in the state and one of the first to recycle C&D on a large scale.
“This seemed like a good fit for us,” Domke said, gesturing at the soon-to-be-opened landfill. “We’ve had a lot of calls from industries that are excited about having a more cost-
effective disposal option. It’s not often you have local industries calling you.”
Tim Boettcher, Jarden Home Brands environmental health and safety specialist and a former landfill operator, said Jarden believes the new landfill could help the Cloquet company save money on waste
“We’re always looking for a good cost option,” Boettcher said during a Cloquet Planning Commission meeting last Tuesday night. “Sarona [Wis.] is not it and in some respects, even Canyon is not it,” he added, mentioning landfill sites 70 and 20 miles away, respectively.
At the same meeting, a few neighbors continued to express opposition to any new landfills of any type, as well as hostility to the idea of having an industrial landfill inside city limits.
“We are considered a good thing in every community we’re in,” Domke said during a tour of the landfill before the planning commission meeting. “We know we’ve got an uphill battle. Hopefully, a year from now, folks will see things differently.”
In the Twin Cities, SKB recycles economically recoverable concrete, brick, block, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, corrugated cardboard, roofing materials, vinyl and wood waste in its operations. The waste management company also plans to recycle at the Cloquet landfill.
“Last year alone, we sold 10,000 tons of shingle waste,” Domke said. “We’ll do anything we can to keep waste out of the landfill. The longer a landfill lasts, the better for us.”
As for the hill of existing C&D waste that Shamrock Environmental promised to move onto the lined landfill, Domke said the company is currently trying to figure out what exactly lies within the grassy hill overlooking the new landfill.
“Once we do that, we will submit a relocation plan to the MPCA [Minnesota Pollution Control Agency],” he said. Under the conditions of the landfill permit, Shamrock has 10 years to relocate the old waste into a lined landfill.
Although the original target opening date was Nov. 15, Shamrock Environmental landfill manager Maynard Delles said the new landfill will likely open a week or so later than planned.