Saturday, June 08, 2013

A piece of Hartford history that probably won't be missed

A Hartford institution that opened in 1940 and served pretty much everyone who had anything to do with the city is about to disappear.

Don't rack you brain for the name of a bank, restaurant, or store. We're talking about the landfill in the North Meadows.

The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA), which has leased the landfill from the city since 1982, announced this week that it has awarded an $11.6 million contract for the final phase of capping the site.

Reading a CRRA fact sheet on the landfill serves as a reminder that not everything about Hartford's past deserves the glow of nostalgia:

The City of Hartford opened the landfill on Leibert Road in the North Meadows for use as an open-burning dump in 1940.

In 1951, the Hartford Fire Department burned shacks erected on the landfill by "dump dwellers."

Between 1953 and 1977 all waste produced in the City of Hartford was burned in the then-state-of-the-art Hartford incinerator. Byproducts from the burning were emitted into the air without any pollution controls. During this period the landfill received incinerator ash and bulky wastes.

The city leased the landfill to the CRRA in 1982. By 1988, the landfill's days of accepting raw garbage were over. Instead, CRRA began using it to deposit ash from its Hartford trash-to-energy plant, along with assorted bulky and special wastes. Still, it emitted a smell that gave visitors driving into Hartford along Interstate 91 a bad first impression of the city. It was no fun for the neighbors, either.

In 2008, CRRA began the process of installing a state-of-the-art synthetic cap over the entire 80-acre landfill. The cap, made of a thick plastic material, will mean there will be 90 percent less infiltration of the landfill by rain water, according to CRRA.

The agency also announced that the closing will allow the making of more history. The final section to be capped, measuring about 35 acres, will have photovoltaic panels mounted on top of a special artificial turf. The project is expected to generate about one megawatt of electricity, or enough to power about 1,000 homes at peak efficiency."The Hartford landfill will be the first in the state – and one of only a handful in the country – to generate solar power," according to CRRA.