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Southern N.M. landfill seeks longer life

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LAS CRUCES (AP) — A big landfill that takes in trash from southern New Mexico is seeking to extend its life to 200 years.

The South Central Solid Waste Authority is drafting the first permit renewal for the Corralitos Landfill since its inception nearly two decades ago. The landfill is about 15 minutes west of Las Cruces and serves Dona Ana County.

Patrick Peck, the authority’s executive director, said the authority is seeking to double the life of the landfill. Under the existing plan, the landfill would last 100 years.

“We’re seeking regulatory authority to go higher with the trash,” Peck told the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Peck explained that the landfill’s layers of trash and dirt now sit about 70 feet above a protective liner. If the state signs off on the request, the height limit would be bumped up another 60 feet.

Raising the height limit would also save the authority money. Peck said it costs about $100,000 to line each acre of the landfill.

The solid waste authority, governed by a joint board of city and county officials, will submit the first draft of the permit application to state environment department officials in June. The approval process is expected to take three years.

In addition to extending its life, the landfill is also attempting to expand the types of materials it can take in. The proposal calls for including non-hazardous waste that requires special handling, such as types of plastic from manufacturing processes and asbestos.

The nearest landfill permitted to take that kind of waste now is Alamogordo, a distance that adds to the disposal cost, said Las Cruces City Councilor Miguel Silva.

The waste authority is hosting a series of public meetings this week where officials will update people about the permit renewal.

Silva said officials are trying to educate residents.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of where the landfill is in the county,” he said. “They just think they dump their garbage, and it disappears.”

The landfill, which opened in 1995, has taken in about 145,000 tons of garbage annually in recent years, Peck said. Its current permit expires in 2015.

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