Site not expected to reach capacity for 35 years

Although the level of earth-moving activity at Waste Management Inc.’s Hillsboro Landfill appears to be massive, the company is simply preparing another portion of its landfill property for dry waste disposal.

Excavation on a 5.7 acre portion of the company’s 394 acre site on Minter Bridge Road began about a month ago and is expected to be completed by the fall, said Waste Management engineer Michelle Wittenbrink. Approximately 245,000 cubic yards of soil is being removed, after which a clay and synthetic liner will be inserted to protect groundwater from contamination. by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATE STRINGER - Crews are clearing away 245,000 cubic yards of soil at the Waste Management site along Minter Bridge Road in Hillsboro to allow a 5.7-acre cell to be filled with trash.

Adding to the scale of the project, the company is also constructing a berm around the new cell. A nearly half-mile long mound of dirt is going around the south perimeter of the property to shield the view of the landfill. Ten mostly dilapidated houses were removed to make way for the soil, which will be transported from the cell site to construct the berm. The site will be planted with trees and other landscaping within the next year for added visual appeal.

These changes are part of the Hillsboro Landfill’s long-term plan to fill 152 acres of its 394 acre property with waste.

The Hillsboro Landfill, which opened in 1965, employs 14. The site has another 56 acres currently available to fill, and company officials estimate it will take more than 35 years to reach capacity at the facility.

Waste Management senior communications manager Jackie Lang said the feedback from neighbors has been positive regarding both the visual changes and the Houston, Texas-based company’s efforts to proactively communicate about the project with its nearby residents.

“Our goal is to be the best neighbors we can be,” Lang said.

Gail Madsen, who lives at Tualatin River Farm right across Minter Bridge Road from the landfill, said the project doesn’t bother her. Madsen said she appreciates the level of communication between the landfill and neighbors, which she said has been good. She added that she has been informed of the company’s long-term plans for the Hillsboro Landfill.

“They’ve been good neighbors to us,” Madsen said.

Another project the landfill is working on this summer is constructing an 8.5-acre wetland. The landfill often uses clay from wetlands to line its garbage cells, so it constructs more to replace the ones it impacts. The site includes 75 acres of wetlands, which Lang said “makes sense as a landowner, to provide wildlife as a buffer between communities.”

The Hillsboro Landfill is a dry landfill, meaning it takes construction or demolition debris rather than household garbage. According to information provided by the company, the Hillboro site takes waste from the western Portland metropolitan area. Some of the material brought to the landfill is saved at the site’s Tualatin Valley Waste Recovery facility, and the remaining waste is dumped into cells, covered with a rubber-like container, and later covered with soil and eventually grass. A finished landfill is engineered to resemble a large grass-covered hill.

“Our goal is to blend into the natural landscape,” Lang said.

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