September 28, 2010 - The potential size of the bill to clean up groundwater pollution from landfills throughout Wyoming has the attention of state lawmakers, as well it should.
State regulators estimate the tab could be as high as $225 million over the next two decades. The Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee's decision last week to form a subcommittee to analyze the potential costs was the right one, because the state needs to identify ways now to help pay for the cleanup.
The Legislature also needs to continue its work to encourage more regional landfills in Wyoming. That will reduce costs for some communities that need -- but can't afford -- to upgrade their landfills to reduce groundwater pollution. It could also go a long way toward curbing future cleanup costs.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality's Solid and Hazardous Waste Division has tested 76 landfills in the state as part of a 2006 directive from the Legislature that set aside $8 million to help local governments drill monitoring wells. The agency discovered that 96 percent of the landfills tested have groundwater contamination. There are 38 more landfills to be tested, including some that have been closed or in line to shut down.