CARBON COUNTY - Hundreds of wind turbine blades from three Wyoming wind farms (one in Glenrock, Wyo. and two in Saratoga, Wyo.) will be disposed of in Casper until next spring.
Nearly 1,000 blades from those three wind farms have to be buried in the Casper Regional Landfill due to the fact that they are un-recyclable as they are made of fiberglass. Newer turbine blades aren’t made from that type of material and can be recycled, but the blades being shipped to Casper are nearly two decades old. When they were first created, the engineers didn’t have the foresight to make them recyclable materials.
“I think it’s one of those things no one thought about too much back then when the blades were first made,” Carbon County Planning and Development Director Sid Fox said. “Back then, there just wasn’t a lot of review in terms of permitting and people didn’t ask hard questions. I personally think the energy industry needs to find ways to recycle or reuse these blades.”
Fox noted that he believes the blades will be buried in Casper and the location will be mapped and in a sense, tagged so no one will find a strange surprise if the spot were to be dug up in years from now.
While the burial of the blades may not affect Carbon County immediately, it could have a larger impact on the state as a whole, both environmentally and economically. There is a significant amount of wind turbines in the county currently and more being created for future projects. No one at the Carbon County clerk’s office or assessor’s office could speak to how many there are in the county, though.
A call placed to Chris Sheridan with the Department of Revenue, which assess the wind turbines in the county, went unreturned by press time.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality provides permits to landfills in the state, but each landfill determines what sort of waste it will accept as long as it meets the requirements within the permit. According to Kristine Galloway, spokeswoman for the department, the blades do fit that criteria.
“The decision to accept wind turbine blades into the landfill would be one made by management,” she said. “It may be worth noting that the Casper landfill has historically been very well managed.”
A call placed to Casper Solid Waste manager Cynthia Langston went unreturned by press time.
Langston, however, told news station KGWN that the Casper landfill was the only one large enough in the region to accept the blades. She also said that the landfill was the only one in the state with the certification to show that it’s environmentally responsible.
“So Casper happens to be the biggest landfill facility in the state of Wyoming,” she said to KGWN. “These blades are really big, and they take up a lot of airspace, and our unlined area is very, very large, and it’s going to last hundreds of years.”
She’d noted that the blades would be cut into thirds and stacked on top of each other to be buried, since they’re around 300 feet long. The motor housings, while made of fiberglass too, can be crushed and then disposed of.
Ellen Fike is a freelancer writer living in Cheyenne. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EllenLFike.