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Advocate Lake Highlands (October 2009) : Page 36

ron Smith, the city’s assistant director of sanitation ser- vices. At the end of each and every day, his crew spreads a six- I on Smith, the city’s assistant director of sanitation ser- vices. At the end of each and every day, his crew spreads a six- I t t doesn’t stink. that’s the first thing that strikes visitors to Dallas’ 996-acre Mccommas bluff Landfill, a former gravel pit lying just south of the trinity river near the intersection of I-45 and I-20. It would seem that a place that takes in nearly 5,000 tons of garbage a day — almost 2 million tons a year — should emit an odor at least as sour and putrid as a commercial dumpster. but somehow, it doesn’t. “We don’t want you to know there’s a landfill here,” says inch layer of clean dirt atop the mounds of trash brought in. the dirt helps mask the stench, keeping the stray dogs and rats at bay, and also makes the landfill look more like a con- struction site than a giant pile of garbage. today Smith is giving a tour of Mccommas bluff, a regular part of his job and a task he clearly relishes. From the look of pride on his face, you’d think he was showing off one of the Smithsonian museums. there’s a reason folks around the sanitation services department call it “ron’s landfill” — Smith can ramble off all the ins, outs and little-known facts about Dallas’ dump site as he navigates his SUV around the perimeter. And as he does, you start to get the idea that all the trash here is really just “a side note,” Smith says. “this road isn’t made of gravel — it’s ground-up, recycled concrete. “See that pecan grove to the left? In the fall, people can come here and gather the pecans that drop. “that’s a compactor. It rolls over the garbage five times and flattens it so that it takes up the least room possible. At a landfill, space is money.” trash is Smith’s business. And in Dallas, it’s big busi- ness. Most of us don’t give another thought to our trash after garbage trucks collect it from its front driveways of waste taken in annually at the landfill 800,000 annual tons 2 million tons of waste from single-family residents 6,000 tons of waste left at the landfill each day on average 7 pounds of waste thrown away daily by the average per- son in Texas (The national average is 5.4 pounds. Texans don’t necessarily toss that much more than other Americans; the national average takes only household waste into account, whereas the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality factors in other forms of waste.)

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