As Pahrump is being eyed by a recycling business yet again, some of the local officials questioned whether it would benefit the town.
A recent application for a reconsideration and modification of the approval of a conditional use permit that would allow a Las Vegas-based Lunas Construction Clean-Up to sort mixed materials on site in Pahrump drew a wave of skepticism from several officials, who brought into question economics of the proposal and a mixed record of the company at the last Regional Planning Commission meeting.
“We have no clear information on the type of material that will be brought to this site, the actual or potential contents of this material, the tonnage to be brought, or the frequency at which it will be brought, where it’s coming from and where any non-recyclable materials will be taken,” Nye County Planner Beth Lee said.
The 30-acre property, located at 1811 and 1941 East Simkins Road in Pahrump, had been previously denied a special use permit for a landfill on Oct. 12, 2014. The decision was appealed and subsequently upheld by county commissioners, according to the report presented by Lee during the meeting.
A memorandum of understanding filed between the Madrigal parties who own Lunas Construction Clean-Up and the property’s previous owner, Efrain Rene Morales Moreno, on Nov.1, 2012 stated that the company would be primarily operating a landfill in Nye County which would be used for the disposal of municipal solid waste.
Paul Strange of Civilwise Services, Inc., who represented the applicant, Norberto Madrigal, before the Regional Planning Commission said the memorandum of understanding had been filed to protect financial interests of the Madrigals because Morales owed money to them.
The memorandum became void in 2015 after the parties ceased to operate as a subchapter “S” Corporation.
“We have no intent of doing a landfill,” Strange said. “The applicant has been very clear about this from the beginning. The idea of taking waste, putting it into the ground, burying it and then putting more on top of it and continue to bury it to fill the hole is not the intent of the applicant.”
Strange said the company intends on operating a clean MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) where potential recyclables would be sorted, packaged for resale and stored until they would be trucked out. The residual materials would be then handed off to a landfill and not stay on-site, Strange said. Initially, materials will be picked up and sorted into potential recyclables and non-recyclables in Las Vegas, he added.
According to the Lunas Construction Clean-Up website, the company has been operating since 1988 and recycles over 75 percent of the trash it collects. Its recycling services includes metal, wood, plastic, drywall, concrete, tires, asphalt and glass. The operation however has logged several violations in the last couple of years.
A 2011 lawsuit filed by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery in the state of California alleged that the company transported 102 loads of 500 or more used or waste tires to a waste tire facility without a waste tire facility permit between Jan. 4 and Dec. 29, 2011. A subsequent audit of the manifest forms revealed that Lunas Construction Clean-up transported 500 or more waste and used tires to the site on at least 35 occasions.
A lawsuit filed by the Southern Nevada Health District in 2010 alleged that Lunas Construction Clean-Up had failed to meet all regulatory conditions that were imposed by the Southern Nevada Health District when the business received authorization to operate a materials recovery facility in Las Vegas in 2007. The lawsuit also alleged that the business had failed to finalize the operation facility in a timely manner.
Commission Chairman John Koenig questioned whether Lunas Construction Clean-Up is going to operate a landfill in Pahrump.
“You guys are going to come back and tell me how this is not going to happen in Pahrump. This is Pahrump, this is our town, we like our town. We don’t want junk from Vegas or California staying in our town,” he said.
Others argued that the business would be located upstream from Desert Utilities Inc. and close to wells which could contaminate drinking water.
“Unless we move the wells somehow and we figure out a way to not let those toxins get into the groundwater, my concern remains and I don’t think that you can guarantee that toxins aren’t going to get into the groundwater from your activities. If they do, you are going to kill this town. We won’t have to worry about it anymore, we will be living elsewhere. I’d rather make sure that doesn’t happen,” board member Vincent Clark said.
In a 3-4 vote, board members made a motion to continue a conditional use permit based on the future findings and requested answers to the questions raised and the current information about the clean-up within 60 days.
Additionally, the commission granted Lunas Construction Clean-Up an extension for a conditional use permit, allowing the development of an asphalt and concrete plan, a gravel crusher and a scrap metal yard on three adjoining parcels of 10 acres each.
The applicant, treasurer of the company Norberto Madrigal, didn’t return requests for comment.