Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill

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Fresno Sanitary Landfill
A drainage channel on the slopes of the former landfill
Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill is located in Fresno, California
Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill
Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill is located in California
Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill
Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill is located in the United States
Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill
LocationS. West Ave. and W. Jensen Ave., Fresno, California
Coordinates36°42′0″N 119°49′47″W / 36.70000°N 119.82972°W / 36.70000; -119.82972Coordinates: 36°42′0″N 119°49′47″W / 36.70000°N 119.82972°W / 36.70000; -119.82972
Area140 acres (57 ha)
ArchitectJean Vincenz
NRHP reference No.01001050
Significant dates
Added to NRHPAugust 7, 2001[1]
Designated NHLAugust 7, 2001[2]

Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill, opened in 1935 in Fresno, California, was the first modern landfill in the U.S., pioneering the use of trenching, compacting, and daily burial to combat rodent and debris problems.[2] It became a model for other landfills around the country, and one of the longest-lived. The landfill was operated by the City of Fresno until it closed in 1989. At that time, the landfill had reached the size of 145 acres (0.59 km2).[3] It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2001.[2]


The former Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill is located about 3 miles (4.8 km) from downtown Fresno, on 140 acres (57 ha) of land at the southwest corner of South West Avenue and West Jensen Avenue. The landfill is a basically rectangular mound, about 4,200 feet (1,300 m) long and 1,250 feet (380 m) wide. It rises to a height about 60 feet (18 m) above the surrounding grade, its sides at a varying but typically steep pitch. It is covered with grass. The landfill has no lining.[4]


Fresno, like other growing cities, sought a suitable long-term solution to the disposal of municipal solid waste in the 1930s. The city conducted an experiment in the operation of a "sanitary" landfill near its water treatment plant, in which a trench was dug, filled with waste, and then covered with fill dug from an adjacent trench, which would be the next area filled. The demonstration site opened in 1934, and was judged a success. The present site was acquired by the city in 1937 and opened the same year. During its years of operation, the city filled an average of 4.3 acres (1.7 ha) per year with about 24,000 tons of waste.[4]

Superfund site[edit]

In 1983, the California Department of Health Services conducted tests which found that the site contained methane and vinyl chloride gases that were penetrating into the areas around the landfill. These tests also concluded that contaminants were being found in private ground-water wells around the landfill. On June 24, 1988, the site was proposed as a superfund site and was finalized on the NPL list on October 10, 1989.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
  3. ^ a b "Fresno Municipal Landfill site information". EPA. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  4. ^ a b "NHL nomination for Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill". National Park Service. Retrieved 2018-01-19.