Landfill has a hard time corralling plastic

After a rain storm plastic garbage bags blow across a farmers field north of Clarkston.

CLARKSTON – The new Cache County landfill north of Clarkston City has many of the people in the Idaho boarder town of Weston up in arms, and they don’t seem to be making a connection with Logan City when they complain about it.

Plastic bags blow across a farmers field after a recent windy rainfall.

The Mayor of Weston, Greg Garner, said he is more than mad, he’s “pissed off.” The fence Logan City built is not stopping garbage from blowing across the border and into the fields.  The city put a taller fence up and it blew down, so the garbage is still coming.

“I think our county should fine them for littering,” Garner said. “Can you imagine what all the plastic is going to do to the machinery at harvest time.”

Idaho residents have turned to the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and State Legislator Chad Christensen to see if they can help resolve the problem.

Garner said he turned the issue over to one of the city councilman Scott Vahsholtz to oversee the trash problem.

Vahsholtz said they had a berm break and the water washed out about three bridges a few years ago. “We sent the City of Logan a $10,000 bill to cover the construction cost,” he said, “We didn’t even get a reply.”

He took it to the Logan Mayor at the time and they weren’t interested.

The landfill has been a thorn in our side since they proposed it,” Vahsholtz said. “That amount of plastic in someone’s field is absolutely appalling.”

He said the Department of Environmental Quality needs to get involved.

“It’s hazardous waste,” he said. “We don’t know what is on that stuff.”

Those farmers are tilling, planting and harvesting in those fields with all that garbage. It is going to affect their crops and machinery, the councilman said.

There are several farmers who have worked the fields on the Utah border for generations and now they have got to figure out what they are going to do.

“This is a big deal. If they were private land-owners they would be doing jail time,” he said. “We are just trying to figure out the next step.”

Vahsholtz said Logan City needs to control the situation; Weston didn’t want the landfill in the first place.

Issa Hamud, Director of the Logan City Environmental Department, said the city is doing everything it can to take care of the problem with the landfill.

“We are continuing to work on the problem,” he said. “This time of year when it rains it is difficult to do anything because of the mud.”

Logan City usually has county inmates cleaning the fields but, because of COVID-19, they can’t be in close proximity to each other because of social distancing.

“The employees are doing the best they can,” Hamud said. “They usually work on it every day.”

It is the plastic that is the problem. That is why Logan City is trying to get a plastic management plan in place. They don’t necessarily want to ban plastics and plastic bags, but they want to manage it, Hamud said.

“That is one reason we are trying to get rid of plastic bags. When the wind catches them, they go everywhere,” Hamud said. “Our landfill is closed right now due to the COVID-19 and people are being sent home.”

He said the trucks going into the landfill are fully covered and when they dump the garbage some of it blows on to and over the fence on windy days.

The landfill is completely fenced and, additionally, Logan City has erected a litter fence, a tall fence adjacent to the landfill that is supposed to catch anything that blows over the first fence.

“The wind blows in so many different directions it is difficult to catch it all,” Hamud said. “We try to stay in contact with the farmers affected and we have permission to enter their fields.”

A  fence surrounds the Logan City landfill catches some of the plastic and some blows into the fields nearby.

The director said he takes the issue of trash in the fields very seriously.

Hamud said as far as the flood goes, the Idaho DEQ came and investigated the washed out areas and determined it was a flood and had nothing to do with the landfill.

The farmers Cache Valley Daily contacted were reluctant to talk about the issue.

“There is not much we can do, we just deal with it,” one farmer said.

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