Nation's largest landfill is closing after half-century

Workers walk through the trash at the Puente Hill Landfill in Puente Hills, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. The nation's largest landfill, where 130 million tons of garbage have been dumped, is closing Thursday after more than a half-century of service. AP Photo/Nick Ut

INDUSTRY, Calif. The nation's largest landfill, where 130 million tons of garbage has been dumped, is closing Thursday after more than a half-century of service.

The 630-acre landfill is about 20 miles east of Los Angeles and served as a regional waste facility. Its gates are being shut because a permit for the site, which is nearly filled, expires on Halloween.

The landfill, which opened in 1957, has accepted more than a third of Los Angeles County's trash and stands as high as a 40-story building.

At its peak some 25 years ago, the landfill accepted the maximum of 13,200 tons per day. Items taken to the site included burned-out storefronts from riots following the Rodney King verdict and buildings destroyed by a 1987 earthquake.

Garbage from the county's 88 cities eventually will be put on trains to an abandoned gold mine more than 200 miles away. In the interim, trash will be buried in nearby counties.

Losing the site won't lead to a trash crisis because more private companies in recent years have added their own landfills.

It will take a couple of years to clean up the area that could be turned into a park that will connect to existing hiking trails. Giant vacuum tubes also will continue to remove methane gas and send it to a plant that has been converting it into energy for nearly 30 years. The gas will provide enough juice for 70,000 homes for the next two decades, officials said.

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