What do you do with your garbage? Today, in Kirkuk, Iraqis have the best choice they have ever had.
Engineers estimate the residents here [Kirkuk] discard 900 tons of trash a day. So like other major cities in the world, this one faces an age old problem: what to do with all that trash. The city is serious about solving its garbage problem and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is part of a joint, multi-national effort to provide solutions.
For years, residents here have been dumping their garbage into unregulated areas or merely unloading it in open fields outside the city. This unrestricted dumping has the potential to cause serious health, environmental and public safety concerns.
To solve the cityâ€™s garbage problem, the Coalition Force’s Brigade Combat Team (BCT) initiated a sustained Solid Waste Management Program for Kirkuk in 2005. To find an environmentally safe solution to the cityâ€™s garbage collection and disposal dilemma, the BCT partnered with multiple agencies.
The central piece to the initiative is the $8.8 million sanitary landfill project, which meets both the highest U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and European Union Landfill Directive standards. This site represents the first environmentally engineered and constructed landfill in Iraq.
The landfill project, built using the Commanderâ€™s Emergency Response Program (CERP) fund, was completed by the Irbil-based Zana Group in February 2008. The 48-acre site is located 10 miles south of Kirkuk and has an expected lifespan of 10-12 years, according to the engineers.
To increase the capacity of landfill sites and to conform to current EPA standards, solid waste must now be processed through a transfer waste station where garbage is compacted. The Kirkuk landfill will soon have two solid waste transfer stations to provide added capacity and to compact the trash before being transferred to the landfill.
The Gulf Region North districtâ€™s Kirkuk Area Office is the contract manager for the construction of the solid waste transfer sites. The Dalo Construction Company of Kirkuk completed the first transfer station, located south of the city, in December 2007. The second solid waste site, located just north of the city, is scheduled for completion in June. Each station has the capacity to handle 300 tons of waste per day. At full capacity, eight tractor trailers transfer the 18, 40-ton capacity transfer trailers to the landfill site continuously throughout the day.
â€œThe first waste transfer station is being fully utilized and the Iraqis are implementing some of their own ideas at the waste transfer station. For example, they are removing large pieces of metal from the trash for potential recycling,â€ explained Lt. Col. J.B. Chadwick, officer in charge of the Kirkuk Area Office. â€œThe site of the second waste transfer station was selected due to its proximity to the Kirkuk Ring Road project, which will allow quick and easy access to the site from the city of Kirkuk and from the waste transfer station to the landfill.â€
The price tag for each solid waste site is $2.5 million with funding for the projects coming from several agencies including the United Nations Office of Project Services. The Development Group Iraq Trust Fund is paying for the cityâ€™s garbage trucks. The Republic of Korea donated the collection vehicles and loaders used at the sites.
The solid waste sites and landfill will employ over 700 local workers, adding good paying jobs and a much need boost to the cityâ€™s local economy.
The Kirkuk Solid Waste Project is a model that can be used for Iraqis to learn proper waste management practices and will dispense with the need to travel to foreign countries to obtain information about solid waste management, according to USACE officials.
By Mike Scheck, Gulf Region North