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Blasting starts at Kodiak Island Borough’s landfill this week

The Kodiak landfill.
The Kodiak landfill.

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Contractors will be boring holes into some areas around the landfill and filling them with powerful explosives, which will be detonated electronically. The goal is to free up an enormous amount of gravel to be used by the landfill.

The borough has two options for acquiring gravel. It can either spend millions of dollars over the next decade to get it trucked in from Bells Flats or Near Island, or it can generate 10 years’ worth of gravel at the landfill – with some help from explosives – at a fraction of the cost.

Dave Conrad is the director of engineering and facilities for the Kodiak Island Borough and the borough’s interim manager.

“We’re initially only going to blast about 20,000 cubic yards and that is for the closure project that Brechan is doing currently,” Conrad said. “After that, there will be basically about 90,000 cubic yards or about 10 years, nine to 10 years of rock, depending on if we have to build other roadways to get to areas that we dump waste.”

When an area of the landfill fills with waste up to a certain level, it needs to be covered with an impermeable layer – that’s typically a mix of synthetic material and gravel or soil over the top. And Conrad says there’s statutes that regulate exactly how much gravel needs to be used.

“The permit requires that when you bury municipal solid waste, i.e. trash, that it be covered with six inches of gravel material,” Conrad said.

To create enough gravel, there will be a series of about five detonations between now and October, pausing over the winter season and wrapping up in spring or summer of next year.

These blastings at the landfill were occurring almost every other year as recently as 2012. Following the lateral expansion of the landfill, the blastings stopped due to an abundance of gravel freed up during the project.

The blastings are currently scheduled for shortly after 5 p.m. – when the landfill is closed – as early as Friday, Aug. 19 or Saturday, Aug. 20, depending on the availability of the contractors.