Recology wants to send 20,000-ton shipments of Bay Area waste each week to the Humboldt County landfill about 28 miles west of Winnemucca. The garbage would include household trash, asbestos, rubber tires and dried sewage sludge.
Estimates place the total annual volume of trash at about 1 million tons each year for 95 years. That could generate about $1 million annually in "host fees" for the county.
Eventually the landfill's mountain of trash would grow to about 20 stories.
Opponents of the plan say the trash would trash the desert and create an environmental nightmare of water pollution and foul smells.
"Shipping 4,000 tons a day of California's trash to Humboldt County for 95 years is ludicrous," said Humboldt County Commissioner Tom Fransway, the only member of five commissioners to publicly oppose the plan. "This is my home. I don't want to see California's garbage come here. It would be degrading to our community and to the state of Nevada."
Some residents support the proposal because it provides a guaranteed future revenue stream for the county.
The county has already given Recology the OK to seek the state permits to complete the project. The company needs air, water and waste permits to satisfy environmental regulations.
The project has been public for two years, but Recology does not yet have contracts in place to ship waste, company spokesman Adam Alberti said. The firm, he said, is preparing for the future as existing California landfills fill up and space for new dumps becomes hard to find.
The Winnemucca landfill would be double-lined to insure waste material would not pollute ground water.
But Jim French, of Nevadans Against Garbage, said neither the firm nor state regulators have offered any specifics that would show the plan is safe.
"From a regulatory perspective, I've never seen anything that has flown under the radar as this project has done," said French, a biologist and Winnemucca resident who worked for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. "As far as I can tell, no one has looked into the impacts of this or seen specific engineering plans or any of the things you would see if you proposed a mine or a gravel pit or even a septic tank on private land."
Last week, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urged Gov. Jim Gibbons to direct state agencies to block what he called "this threat Nevada's sovereignty and dignity."
Gibbons told the Reno Gazette-Journal last week that the interstate transportation of trash is a federal matter and that Reid should talk to Democrats in Congress about regulating it.