Iowa City landfill continues to smolder - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City landfill continues to smolder

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Iowa City crews continue to restore a landfill cell more than two months after it caught fire.

Iowa City officials say there's still a long road ahead before restoration of the cell is complete. The large blaze that started back in May after officials believe a hot garbage load was dumped on site.

The process could have even been worse, recently Iowa City officials got some good news when lab tests showed the materials burning were not hazardous, so it can stay.

Still things won't feel back to the way they were for quite some time and few could have predicted an Iowa City landfill fire of this magnitude. "It's going to be a long process to get us back to the capacity and capabilities that we had," said Dave Elias, the Iowa City landfill superintendent.

Some eight weeks after the tire lining system of the cell ignited, debris continues to smolder. The recent string of dry weather isn't helping crews in the process. "Every few days we seem to be seeing a flare up. It depends a lot on the wind and dry conditions," Elias said.

Crews have now entered the clean-up phase. Providing a clear view of the tire lining that burned at intense temperatures.

Crews estimate they'll spend two months uncovering ash and debris and then disposing the materials at an operational part of the landfill. "We're going to go down below where the tires were before. We're going to go down to bare dirt, so that we know nothing is left to burn," Elias said.

Then next spring officials hope to begin the cell's reconstruction, meaning this 15 year capacity area of the landfill may not be restored until more than one year after it initially caught fire.

"It's a public health issue and we want to be able to continue to do our job effectively. We want to have capacity out a few years because you never know when some other kind of disaster may come in," Elias said.

Officials hope to finish the cleanup some time next summer.  Insurance claims are still pending, the estimate right now for the price tag to get things back online between $4-5 million.

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