Heavy equipment trucks on engineered landfill.
EM crews recently broke ground on a new cell for the Idaho Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act Disposal Facility, EM’s onsite, engineered landfill for cleanup program waste.

IDAHO FALLS, IdahoEM crews have broken ground on a new cell of the largest active landfill at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site, an expansion that will extend the life of the facility by 25 years and increase its capacity threefold.

For the last 20 years, the Idaho Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) Disposal Facility (ICDF) has accommodated waste generated from CERCLA and demolition and dismantlement (D&D) remediation efforts at the INL Site.

“ICDF is a significant part of responsible waste management at the INL Site,” said Craig Reese, the ICDF expansion project manager for Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC), EM’s cleanup contractor for the INL Site. “Looking forward, this project will continue that legacy and provide a cost-effective answer to meet our cleanup and environmental goals.”

Aerial photo of the Disposal Facility located near the Idaho National Laboratory Site.
The Idaho Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act Disposal Facility is located near the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center at the Idaho National Laboratory Site.

With a current capacity to dispose of 390,000 cubic meters of waste and debris — comparable in size to 10 football fields — the facility consolidates waste from cleanup sites into a single, controlled and environmentally compliant landfill, providing the INL with a cost-effective solution to its disposal needs. Once completed, the expansion project will increase disposal capacity to 1,060,000 cubic meters.

The ICDF is more than 80% full, and current projections show its existing infrastructure is inadequate to meet future demands created by onsite CERCLA cleanup activities and demolition efforts. A 2020 survey estimated that at least 340,000 cubic meters of onsite waste will likely be generated from CERCLA and D&D remediation efforts through 2050.

The result of the CERCLA regulatory process, the ICDF has stringent waste acceptance criteria. It only accepts waste generated from CERCLA and D&D remediation efforts. It does not accept offsite waste.

The new disposal cell has been designed like the existing landfill, with multiple liners, multiple leachate collection and detection systems, and lined evaporation ponds, all of which are compliant with state-of-the-art disposal facility requirements.

The new cell is projected to start accepting waste in 2026.

-Contributor: Carter Harrison