- DTG Recycle, a Macquarie-backed company with a focus on C&D recycling, confirmed it recently laid off 17 employees at the Anderson Landfill operation in Yakima, Washington. The Yakima Health District recently denied the renewal of a permit for the limited-purpose landfill, which is DTG’s only disposal site.
- As first reported by the Yakima Herald, regulators cited the lack of an air permit from the Yakima Clean Air Agency or a sand and gravel permit from the state Department of Ecology, as well as pending items related to stormwater control and operating plans, in their June 27 denial letter.
- Paul Duncon, a DTG representative, described this outcome as a “planned event” as the company works to advance construction of a new, lined cell. The company will also be excavating some material from an existing unlined cell and moving it to the new lined cell. DTG aims to reopen the landfill in 2024.
DTG acquired the Anderson Rock and Demolition Pit site, its first landfill, in 2019. This made the company vertically integrated amid a period of rapid growth through acquisitions. While a MRF at the broader DTG Recycle Sustainability Park remains open, the landfill situation presents elevated costs on multiple fronts.
The company said this action was planned prior to its sale to a Macquarie Asset Management fund, which was announced in December after Clairvest Group sold its own minority stake, and fits into the new private equity owner’s long-term plans.
“Macquarie wants all their landfills lined,” said Duncon. "We started going to line the cell six months before the acquisition happened."
Regulators also recently denied a permit for the local Caton Landfill, where operators have vowed to remain open.
DTG’s planned expansion of the Anderson site, as well as other issues such as a subsurface fire, have worried neighboring residents. The Yakima Health District is working with Ecology to address the fire, as well as an ongoing contamination investigation. During a recent meeting, residents were told there was not any safety concern outside of the DTG property but outlined plans for the company to cover the costs of lodging and meals in the event of an evacuation. DTG has been doing daily air sampling, and efforts to mitigate the fire with soil cover recently started.
According to Scott Cave, a consultant for local group Friends of Rocky Top, residents had previously suspected the fire and remain concerned following its confirmation. This also complicated a prior finding by Ecology that hazardous substances such as benzene and naphthalene may have been released at the site.
A September 2022 letter named DTG as a “potentially liable” party in that matter and the agency now has a formal agreed order with the company to assess air and water conditions. An April Ecology update said area drinking water had not been affected.
Cave said that DTG past efforts to ramp up C&D disposal volumes at the site, driven by numerous hauling acquisitions in the Puget Sound area, could make for a more complex remediation process.
He pointed to a May report from outside consultant Landfill Fire Control, which said “that due to steep side slopes and poor (air pervious) soil cover, conditions at the DTG site were ideal for spontaneous combustion to develop,” as evidence of possible site management issues. Cave also raised concerns about material from pits in a separate area, which had fires many years ago, possibly migrating to the nearby Cowiche Creek.
Cave anticipates it could take a long time to reopen the landfill, even once the subsurface fire is controlled, because the lack of a liner may mean more information is needed about surrounding groundwater conditions. Questions also remain about air monitoring.
"We just have a lot of concerns about how this is going to evolve,” said Cave, while noting that residents were thankful for the recent government action. “Regulators I think now have a much better coordination and control system that they're trying to establish here."
Duncon said DTG started groundwater sampling after it acquired the site, with five active wells and three more in progress, and said the air permit process is ongoing. He also said the sand and gravel permit is being reviewed in connection with approval for operations of an on-site quarry and mining operation. DTG signed an agreement in 2022 with Granite Construction to operate that site.
The Yakima Clean Air Agency declined to share details on the status of DTG’s air permit, other than to say all applications are reviewed for completeness within 30 days before being shared for public review ahead of other potential steps.
Ecology said it is supporting the Yakima Health District in the permit process, while also helping to manage groundwater sampling and fire response as part of the agreed order with DTG.
“The groundwater monitoring and fire response were not listed as items of non-compliance in the denial letter but a failure on DTG’s part to continue to address them could become reason for YHD to delay issuance of the operating permit in the future. DTG has indicated that they intend to correct their compliance issues and reopen the facility as soon as possible,” said Dave Bennett, communications manager for Ecology’s solid waste program, via email.
DTG has seen its pace of acquisitions slow since an expansion into Oregon in January, leading some to question if the landfill has become a drag on the business, but Duncon said that was not the case.
"We've got hundreds of trucks and hundreds of drivers that are operating any day ... the effect of this is very, very, very small,” he said. “We have much larger plans for this landfill, but we have to have it lined — there's just no way around that."
Other sources, including anonymous postings on the job site Indeed, suggested more widespread layoffs. No notice has been filed with the state, which is generally required when large employers do layoffs. DTG — which reported having more than 500 employees as of December — said the rumors of a bigger layoff were not accurate, without further explanation.
Duncon said the company plans to open a heavy equipment training center and education center on the site, while maintaining its recycling operations throughout the landfill construction process, and hopes to restart full operations by Q3 2024.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the nature of concerns about possible effects on Cowiche Creek.