The City of Tulsa is working quickly to cap an old landfill that washed out during flooding at Oxley Nature Center.
During the first week of work, a city contractor has cut a path through woods and built a road to the site.
Now there's a steady stream of dump trucks, in and out of Oxley Nature Center. They’re all headed for a clearing on a bend in Bird Creek, where the City plans to build a barrier to protect the landfill.
The site was one of many landfills used by trash haulers in Tulsa. Now that buried trash is coming out, some ending up in the creek, and some along the bank. Maps of the landfill show ten trenches, called cells, filled with trash and topped with dirt that easily washed away.
"We've got to cap this because every time Bird Creek comes up with a one or two-inch rain, there are exposed cells of waste out there and it goes right into Bird Creek," said Paul Zachary, the City Engineer overseeing the project.
The city put booms out in the water to catch trash that's floating out, but there is still a lot of trash downriver. More is coming out as the unstable banks fall into the creek.
Zachary figures they'll have a reinforce 600 feet of the bank to stop the problem. At this point, they're still building a stable road to get heavy equipment and material into place.
"If the river stays down and we get our rock in, once the rock gets in, it's going to be, it will go a whole lot faster to build that slope," Zachary said
The landfill exposed by the flood is just one of several all along the Creek throughout Mohawk Park. There are more city landfills along the Arkansas River, all need better protections.
"Adjacent to the rivers, on low lying land where people were not going to be building houses, that's where they would place dumps," Zachary said.
He noted that much of Arkansas' west bank from 11th Street past 23rd is an old landfill.
At Oxley, there are still acres covered with trash and still a need for volunteers to help clean it up. The city hopes to seal up the landfill before the next heavy rain, to prevent the problem from getting worse.