by Jeff Winke
If you ask the average person on the street where garbage goes after it’s picked up and taken away, most will likely say “the dump.” At one time, most communities had a town dump located near the edge of town or just outside. That was where town-folk could toss out anything.
One can imagine Andy and Opie hauling an old chair that Aunt Bea wanted out of the house to the Mayberry 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.
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.
In 1959, well before the federal law was passed, three forward-thinking cities near Salt Lake City, Utah came together 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 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.
The Class 1, Subtitle D landfill is managed by Trans-Jordan in 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 beginning, 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 and sold to the public at a reasonable price. The compost is a high-quality product that meets the USCC (U.S. Composting Council) 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 their 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 [to] 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 Cat 349F excavator and two Cat 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 3D 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 enable 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.”
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 September 2015. Phase 2 started in May 2017 and finished October 2018.
The project occurred while continuing to take in 365,000 tons a year 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 Cat 836K landfill compactors equipped with JohnnyBall 3D onboard measuring systems to maintain a level top, 3:1 side slope and a 4:1 working face. The company operates a Cat 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.”