Clark County has agreed to purchase the closed Leichner Landfill and adjacent properties north of Orchards for $1.5 million, a price set by an appraisal. In the coming months, the county will work with the public to determine how the landfill and nearby properties could be reused.
The Leichner Landfill, 9411 NE 94th Ave., was Clark County’s primary disposal site for solid waste for more than 50 years, from 1935 to the end of 1991. Until 1962, garbage primarily was burned at the site and the residue was buried. Then garbage was buried for almost 30 more years until the landfill closed.
The 74-acre landfill lacks a bottom membrane liner and a collection system for leachate, a polluted discharge typically caused by precipitation percolating through the waste. Those features are required at modern landfills, such as the Finley Buttes Landfill near Boardman, Ore., where most of Clark County’s solid waste is buried today.
Groundwater contamination was first detected at the Leichner Landfill during the early 1980s. Under a consent order from the Washington State Department of Ecology, the landfill was closed at the end of 1991. Waste disposal areas were capped with a top membrane liner, soil and native grasses. A gas collection system was installed to capture and burn methane gas from the decomposing waste.
In December 1988, three years before the landfill’s closure, Clark County and the city of Vancouver entered into an agreement with the landfill’s owner, the Leichner Brothers Land Reclamation Corp., that gave the county and the city a significant role in overseeing the closure and groundwater monitoring-treatment at the site.
The county, city, Leichners and Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission agreed to raise disposal rates to pay for the landfill’s closure. The agreement also gave the county an option to purchase the landfill and adjacent properties once Clark County Public Health and the Ecology Department determine the landfill has “stabilized” and no longer requires post-closure monitoring and maintenance for gas emissions and groundwater contamination.
In May 2011, the Board of Clark County Commissioners and the Vancouver City Council signed off on purchasing the landfill. The sale likely won’t close for another year or longer while the county works out final details with state agencies.
The county likely will start a master planning process for the 120-acre purchase area, which includes the 74-acre landfill and adjacent properties to the north and south. Any reuses cannot interfere with the landfill’s post-closure maintenance and monitoring.