Closed Landfills – Kentwood, Sparta, North Kent


Closed landfills which Kent County oversees through monitoring and post-closure management in accordance with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and/or United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Kentwood Landfill

The result of urban growth, by the late 1940’s many unregulated, open-type dumps began to appear in Michigan, including in Kent County. With support of the State Health Department and to better understand this burgeoning problem, in 1965 the Kent County Board of Supervisors appointed a Garbage and Refuse Disposal Study Committee. With the assistance of the Health Department, Planning Department, Department of Public Works and an engineering consultant, the committee completed a study entitled Report on Refuse Disposal – October 1966 documenting the magnitude of the problem and “to determine the most efficient method for the disposal of refuse of all kinds for all municipalities and townships in Kent County”.

In 1965, twenty-nine dumps were scattered throughout the County with 11 municipally-owned and seven privately-owned still operating. Most were filling up and none met the upgraded licensing and disposal requirements of the newly enacted PA 87 of 1965, ultimately forcing closure of these sites.

Kent County DPW’s assistance was sought because municipal and private industry disposal options were shrinking and new facilities were not available to meet a burgeoning refuse disposal problem.

In 1967, the Board of Supervisors created the Kent County Refuse System and directed the Department of Public Works to develop a countywide refuse system including financing, design, construction, and operation with Board of Public Works oversight. Over the course of the next few years, the DPW negotiated agreements with 13 municipalities to provide disposal services and in the early 1970’s assumed the operating responsibility for two municipal dumps (known today as Kentwood Landfill and Sparta Landfill) as a stop gap measure to provide needed disposal capacity, improve site conditions and implement closure plans.

Following an in-depth investigation of the Kentwood site in 1990, the United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] determined specific cleanup actions to address organic and inorganic site contamination concerns at Kentwood Landfill. The cleanup actions included capping the landfill; incorporating a methane gas venting and leachate collection system; extracting and treating groundwater; and implementing groundwater use restrictions.

During the summer of 2015 an active gas collection and control system was added to reduce the potential for methane gas to move away from the landfill toward the library and other nearby buildings. Additional methane monitoring will take place after the collection system is installed and Kent County will continue to manage the site.

The remedial plan developed in the early 1990’s anticipated it would cost $5.7 million to mitigate contamination and provide 30-years of post-closure monitoring for the Kentwood Landfill. This estimation was subsequently found to be insufficient to correct all the problems encountered. Kentwood Landfill costs are $19.06 million as of 2017.

Kentwood Landfill is a Superfund site. Superfund is the name given to the federal program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites.

North Kent Landfill

North Kent Landfill accepted municipal solid waste from 1977 until 1986. North Kent Landfill was one of the first landfills in the State of Michigan to install a plastic liner below the waste to protect groundwater. The (approx.) 54-acre landfill is on the same property as the North Kent Waste & Recycling Center.

Groundwater around the landfill is sampled quarterly in accordance with rules set forth by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. A new methane collection system was installed in 2017 to collect landfill gas from below the landfill cap. Work has also begun on a multi-year plan to regrade the top of the landfill to improve drainage.

Sparta Landfill

The result of urban growth, by the late 1940’s many unregulated, open-type dumps began to appear in Michigan, including in Kent County. With support of the State Health Department and to better understand this burgeoning problem, in 1965 the Kent County Board of Supervisors appointed a Garbage and Refuse Disposal Study Committee. With the assistance of the Health Department, Planning Department, Department of Public Works and an engineering consultant, the committee completed a study entitled Report on Refuse Disposal – October 1966 documenting the magnitude of the problem and “to determine the most efficient method for the disposal of refuse of all kinds for all municipalities and townships in Kent County”.
In 1965, twenty-nine dumps were scattered throughout the County with 11 municipally-owned and seven privately-owned still operating. Most were filling up and none met the upgraded licensing and disposal requirements of the newly enacted PA 87 of 1965, ultimately forcing closure of these sites.

Kent County DPW’s assistance was sought because municipal and private industry disposal options were shrinking and new facilities were not available to meet a burgeoning refuse disposal problem.

In 1967, the Board of Supervisors created the Kent County Refuse System and directed the Department of Public Works to develop a countywide refuse system including financing, design, construction, and operation with Board of Public Works oversight. Over the course of the next few years, the DPW negotiated agreements with 13 municipalities to provide disposal services and in the early 1970’s assumed the operating responsibility for two municipal dumps (known today as Kentwood Landfill and Sparta Landfill) as a stop gap measure to provide needed disposal capacity, improve site conditions and implement closure plans.

Kentwood Landfill is a Superfund site. Superfund is the name given to the federal program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites.

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