Westar leaders say the Lawrence Energy Center needs a new landfill to hold coal byproducts, such as ash.
The existing landfill, which is located near County Road 438 and North 1800 Road, will be full by 2007, said Bill Eastman, director of environmental services for Westar Energy. The proposed landfill would be located on about 59 acres of Westar property - found north of North Iowa Street and Lakeview Road - and should last for 26 years.
"We hardly ever do this," Eastman said. "The last one we did was years ago."
The proposed industrial landfill would only hold materials created by the use of coal at the energy center. That includes ash and slurry. The material dumped in the landfill reportedly shouldn't cause any health hazards.
"That material is very stable, and some of it can be used in concrete," Eastman said. "It's a pretty stable compound."
The request for a permit to allow for a new landfill to be constructed on the plant's site, 1250 North 1800 Road, received unanimous approval last week from the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission.
In order to move forward with the landfill, Westar needs approval from the Douglas County Commission. The county commissioners are slated to consider the request at 6:35 p.m. Oct. 19, said Lisa Pool, a planner with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department.
Lawrence Energy Plant
If approved by the County Commission, the company would then go through a permitting process with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
The landfill has received some public opposition. A group of homeowners in the 900 block of North Michigan Street provided a printed statement outlining concerns to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission.
The homeowners, whose property is located south of the location of the proposed landfill for the energy center, said the landfill could decrease their property value and cause a foul rotten egg odor. It also could create air and noise pollution, they say.
Eastman said the energy company would work with area neighbors and homeowners.
"We want to do what's right and meet the law and have a minimal impact on their neighbors," he said.
Trucks would only deposit the waste in the landfill between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Eastman said. The company also has a plan in place to deal with the ash being transported from the energy plant to the on-site landfill. Roads at the plant will be treated with water and chemicals to prevent dirt and ash from being kicked up by wind.
"We've dealt with this before with our other on-site landfill, and we work to address the concerns of nearby landowners," Eastman said.
Everett Shockley, 1215 N. 1800 Road, had some problems with ash blowing onto his property from the current on-site landfill, which is located at the intersection of North 1800 Road and County Road 438. Shockley said when Westar was notified about the problem, workers from the company checked on the situation.
"They've (Westar) been trying to take care of things," he said.
Eastman said that having a landfill on the site of the energy plant had been deemed the most cost-effective option and would keep prices down. Westar hires a trucking company for about $500,000 annually to haul the coal byproducts from the center to the on-site landfill. Trucks make thousands of trips annually to deposit waste in the on-site landfill, Eastman said.
"There's a quarry nearby that would accept the waste," he said. "But I suspect it would cost millions of dollars more, and there would be four or five trucks a day on county roads."