Utah Landfill Shuffles to Gain Space
GPS rover and Level/Slope Measuring System Help Relocate Garbage to Gain 2.3M Yards of Landfill Space
Ask the average person on the street where garbage goes after the garbage truck picks it up and takes it away, and most will likely say, "the dump." At one time, most communities had a town dump located near the edge of town or just outside where town-folk could toss out anything.
One can imagine Andy and Opie hauling an old chair that Aunt Bee wanted out of the house to the Mayberry town dump. Fortunately, in 1976, eight years after the last episode of The Andy Griffith Show aired, the United States government passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This law put new rules into effect to protect water supplies and control how trash was thrown away. As a result, many dumps were closed or changed to follow the new rules.
There never was an episode showing toxic waste absentmindedly tossed into the Mayberry dump seeping into the ground and causing problems to underground water, streams, rivers and the local "fishin' hole."
Technologically Advanced Landfill
Today dumps are illegal, and trash is taken to a landfill. Modern day landfills are sophisticated operations and are designed to receive garbage and keep the environment safe. A landfill has a liner system at the bottom to catch toxic waste that could pollute ground water. Trash is piled and smashed down to “fill” the landfill space.
Well before the federal law was passed, three forward-thinking cities near Salt Lake City, Utah came together in 1959 and decided to convert a popular dumping spot into a landfill. Slowly other local cities bought into the project. Currently, the Trans-Jordan Cities Landfill is now owned and governed by seven cities with several other non-owning cities also bringing their Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to the site. The once Mayberry-style community dump is now a technologically advanced, sophisticated landfill serving approximately 500,000 residents, as well as accommodating the commercial waste from the same south half of Salt Lake Valley region.
A Positive Corporate Neighbor
The Class 1, Subtitle D landfill is managed by Trans-Jordan, South Jordan, Utah. At the site, Trans-Jordan digs down a hundred feet from ground level and fills it up to a point higher than original ground level.
"Our company started with seven full-time employees and has grown to a staff of 39, plus five temps," stated Jason Turville, Operations Supervisor at Trans-Jordan Cities Landfill. "We take in 365,000 tons of MSW a year at the Trans-Jordan Cities Landfill with a steady growth as the communities continue to build out and the demand increases."
Since its start, the company has made conscious, concerted efforts to be a positive corporate neighbor. They offer an active Green Waste program where they accept, grind and mulch trees, brush and associated organic materials, which are converted into compost and chips that is sold to the public at a reasonable price. The compost is a high-quality product that meets the U.S. Composting Council (USCC) certification for compost.
There is also a public convenience center (PCC) for residents to drop their trash on a hard, concrete surface with recycling of many materials including metal, carpet pad, Freon containing appliances, electronics, and second-hand store donations. Another service offered is a household hazardous waste (HHW) collection and processing facility – free to residents and fee-based for small businesses.
The Trans-Jordan Cities Landfill currently accepts 365,000 tons a year of MSW from the seven member cities, which are West Jordan, Sandy, Draper, Riverton, South Jordan City, Murray and Midvale, as well as local commercial contributions.
"The best way to describe our company is 'we manage airspace,'" Turville said. "Our job is put as much MSW into as little airspace as possible to maximize the life of the landfill space we have available."
That goal of maximizing space was behind a recent Trans-Jordan project. The landfill has six cells. The company determined that they could gain significant space by relocating 500,000 cubic yards of MSW from a corner of an old cell to the new active cell. The move would literally gain 2.3 million yards of future landfilling space.
"Our current lowest elevation for our operation in Cell 6a has us at an elevation 50 feet lower than the bottom of the old trash placed in the corner," Turville said. 'Therefore, by moving it into the active area of the landfill, we gain the 50 feet of depth directly underneath and also from where the natural earthen slope will be removed to maximize the depth and space of the area."
For the Old Cell 6 Trash Relocation Project, Trans-Jordan used a Caterpillar 349F Excavator and two Caterpillar 740B Haul Trucks. Digging a new cell with an excavator is common practice, but digging trash out of an existing cell is not. The trash had been sitting there for 20-plus years and was very compacted. Trans-Jordan claimed that it actually was harder to pull out than dirt.
Trans-Jordan does not employ GPS machine control on any of its machines; however, they do use a handheld Trimble TSC3 GPS controller for establishing design grades and top of waste (TOW) grades. The Trimble rover is used for site measurement, stakeout, and grade checking operations. The controller, which is paired up with a Trimble R10 LT Receiver uses Utah’s VRS wireless network. In conjunction, all machines use JohnnyBall 3-D onboard measuring systems, which are designed to provide operators with real-time level and slope.
“We manually put out stakes to follow, then use JohnnyBall as a tool to accurately maintain a level working area and establish a 4:1 working face on a daily basis," Turville said. "Our MSW side slopes are 3:1 and with us having many new operators it is a great tool to teach them and show them the exact slope required for the operation."
Base cups for JohnnyBall have been mounted in seven Trans-Jordan machines – dozers, compactors, an excavator, and a motorgrader – which enables the four JohnnyBalls they currently own to be moved seamlessly from machine to machine as needed.
"The GPS rover gives us the ability to take the site design created in our office and implement it in the field," Turville said. "JohnnyBall helps our operators to efficiently and accurately build slopes where staking is not reasonable or appropriate--and it keeps the machine operator accountable to me and the other managers. The GPS rover used with JohnnyBall is a powerful combination that has become essential to our success."
Completing the Project
The Old Cell 6 Trash Relocation Project was completed in two phases. The company cut half of the old MSW and relocated it from August 2014 through Sept 2015. Phase 2 – the other half – started up in May 2017 and finished October 2018.
The project occurred while continuing to take in 365,000 tons a year of MSW from the seven member cities and commercial traffic. The MSW that was moved was added into the daily processing amount.
For processing the trash daily, Trans-Jordan employs two Caterpillar 836K Landfill Compactors equipped with JohnnyBall 3-D onboard measuring systems to maintain a level top, 3:1 side slope, and a 4:1 working face. The company operates a Caterpillar D5 Dozer equipped with a JohnnyBall for dressing-up side slopes and working on finish slopes for liner placement.
"JohnnyBall has become a necessary tool to ensure we maintain 3:1, 2.5:1, and 2:1 slopes in the various locations," stated Turville. "It is simple, easy to use, and provides real time feedback to the operator, which means a lot to us especially since two-thirds of the crew are green and learning how to achieve the grades we need, while working on their own."
With the Old Cell 6 Trash Relocation Project completed, Turville reflected: "For years we will be talking and reminiscing about moving ‘Old Cell 6,’ how this project helped extend the life of the landfill, and how interesting it was to ‘mine’ old trash and see what did and did not decompose over the 20 years it was sitting. A worthwhile and interesting project, for sure."