Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

In Austin, Landfills Hide in Plain Sight

Photo by Wells Dunbar on Flickr/Creative Commons

How much trash is hiding beneath the surface in Austin? You'd be surprised.

For a city that prides itself on being green, many Austinites may be surprised to learn that they’re living next to trash buried decades ago. For Reporting Texas, a digital journalism initiative at the University of Texas, StateImpact Texas intern David Barer reports on hidden landfills in Austin that hold “everything from banana peels to microwaves and, in one case, medical test monkeys buried in plastic bags:”

“Many old landfills around Austin operated before stringent regulations existed. Materials placed in those dumps were not divided into hazardous and non-hazardous groups, nor did they use plastic liners to stop the spread of toxic materials or plastic caps to close inactive landfills.

The inactive landfills date back more than 80 years in some cases. They are often positioned near creek beds, parks and aquifers. Yet few Austinites, including city officials, know exactly where the landfills are or what they contain.”

Read the full story at Reporting Texas.



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