Deadlines set for landfill site closure

By Sarah Pridgeon
Dena Egenhoff of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approached the council at this month’s regular meeting regarding the current status of plans to close the landfill and install a transfer station and the environmental impact that the landfill site is having on the surrounding land.
The DEQ has requested that an Administrative Order on Consent, a document that essentially constitutes an agreement to work together on a final permitting plan, be reviewed and signed. As multiple deadlines have been changed or extended in the process of closing the landfill, said Egenhoff, the DEQ would like to have a document in place to cover all future procedures.
“We knew this was coming,” said Larry Schommer, Public Works Director. “It’s an official way of saying that we need to shut the landfill and set a definite end date – it’s really just a plan of action.”
According to Schommer, many things remain to be done before the landfill can be closed, including building, securing funding, permitting, budgeting for equipment and finalizing where the trash will be taken. The DEQ is aware of this and has been “very helpful” in extending deadlines; for example, on the DEQ’s suggestion, the deadline has been extended until lifetime permits, rather than three-year permits, come into effect in order to “make life easier in the long run.”
The DEQ is also in the process of investigating the impact of the landfill on groundwater, said Egenhoff, and has found that nitrate levels are above recommended levels and other volatile organics are also present. The council, upon receiving notice of the investigations, will have 90 days to demonstrate that the landfill is not causing these problems.
If the council chooses not to make this demonstration, the existing permit will be modified to allow semi-annual groundwater sampling for monitoring purposes.
Egenhoff explained to the council, in response to a query about possible funding, that $15 million has been set aside by the state for landfill remediation, but no mechanism is currently in place for distribution. The priority, however, is on creating transfer stations, then on capping landfills and remediation.
The council moved to review to Administrative Order on Consent and take action at next month’s regular council meeting. Building of the transfer station is expected to begin next year and the deadline for it to be fully operational is 2014.