Department of Ecology News Release - August 31, 2015

New effort aims to snuff out Pasco landfill fire

SPOKANE – Workers are digging deep into part of the Pasco Sanitary Landfill in Franklin County in a new effort to stop a stubborn underground fire at the closed facility. 

The fire was discovered in November 2013 in a small area where municipal wastes and shredded tire debris were dumped. Since that time, attempts to put out the fire – including smothering the fire by adding soil on top of the burning area – have not completely extinguished it.

A new plan approved by the Washington Department of Ecology involves digging a trench about 3 feet wide and 35 to 40 feet deep around the 40-foot-by-50-foot area of the 250-acre landfill that’s burning. Because landfill waste in the area is about 35 feet thick, the trench should completely surround any flammable material. Workers will take the dug-up waste to a permitted solid waste landfill.

The trench will be filled with a clay-cement-soil mix that will harden. Once this unburnable “box” is finished, the burning wastes will be mixed with a combination of water and a mud-like slurry. The mixing will be done in phases until all of the burning waste is wetted, mixed and cooled. Monitoring devices will be installed to make sure the waste isn’t burning.

After the fire is out, site workers will install a similar type of barrier around portions of a nearby waste disposal area that contains drums of hazardous wastes. That barrier will help to better isolate the drums until a final, complete cleanup is developed for the landfill.

The fire is no immediate threat to people living near the landfill, local businesses or site workers.

The Pasco Sanitary Landfill is closed to the public and posted with “no trespassing” signs. The landfill no longer receives waste. Ecology is working with 32 different parties to clean up the landfill under the state’s cleanup law.


Seth Preston, communications, 360-407-6848, @ecologyWA