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By Roger Harnack
Franklin Connection 

Landfill breaks ground

New facility to bring jobs to Washtucna


Last updated 5/19/2023 at 9:26am

Roger Harnack | The Journal

Local dignitaries and Waste Management company officials break ground at the new landfill site off Mullan Road.

WASHTUCNA – Near 50 people turned out Thursday, April 20, for a ground-breaking ceremony for a new landfill more than 30 years in the making.

Waste Management managers and employees joined local dignitaries and residents at the 550-acre site off Mullan Road.

Company Senior Manager of Business Development Ken Gimpel said the project has been on the drawing board since the late-1980s.

"This has been a long-time coming," he said at the beginning of the event that included a lunch catered by company employees.

Adams County Commissioners Jay Weise and Mike Garza were present for the event, as was Washtucna Town Council members Dustin Schwartz and Cathy Blankenship.

Ritzville Councilman Dennis Chamberlain was also present.

The company's area vice-president Jason Rose, spoke briefly about the landfill dedication.

"This is important because it means jobs, economic vitality and environmental protections," he said, noting he has been involved since 1997.

Waste Management's Dave Lowe said the project already more than 30 years in the making will serve Eastern Washington and North Idaho for 150 years, when complete.

"Waste Management is all about building a more sustainable model," he said. "Decades from now, renewable emergency may be possible here.

Lowe credited numerous area leaders for helping bring the project to fruition. But he paused briefly to pay homage to former Washtucna Mayor Sydney Sullivan, who advocated the landfill as a means to revive his community.

Sullivan passed away in 2018.

"I know he's looking down on us right now saying, "Yeah! That's awesome," he said.

Washtucna Town Councilman Dustin Schwartz also spoke briefly, saying he hopes it works out as Sullivan envisioned.

"We hope it brings a little life back into these nearby, small towns," he said.

With that, local dignitaries and Waste Management workers picked up gilded shovels and broke the hard-packed ground.

Afterward, Waste Management treated all event-goers to lunch at the site situated on a 3,200-acre parcel between Mullan and Gray roads, north of State Highway 26, about three miles east of town.

The company has been working with Adams County and the state Department of Ecology on a landfill proposal since before the county landfill near Bruce was closed and replaced with two transfer stations.

Waste Management has had an unclassified land-use permit through Adams County and a solid waste handling permit from the state health and ecology departments since about 1997.

Initially, the landfill is expected to generate construction jobs as access roads, scales, monitoring systems and other facilities are built.

After the landfills projected "early 2024 opening," there will be at least a half-dozen new, permanent local jobs, Gimpel said previously.

Waste Management officials said the landfill will be a "state-of-the art facility" for disposal of municipal solid waste.

With the landfill only covering 550 acres on the parcel, the surrounding land owned by Waste Management will continue to be eased to local farmers and ranchers for dryland wheat and cattle.

In the coming weeks, area residents will notice access road construction, followed by the scales and scalehouse and excavation of cells.

The cells will contain composite liners, and leachate and landfill gas collection systems.

This isn't the only upgrade Waste Management has made in recent years.

Last year, the company announced plans to spend $56 million for new recycling technology at its Spokane Materials and Recycling Technology Center.

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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