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County working to fix landfill leaks

By Alex Bridges

Shenandoah County remains on track to fixing an old landfill that continues to leak fluids into groundwater, says a state environmental official.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to hear an update Tuesday on efforts to meet requirements set by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality years ago to ensure that the long-closed landfill near Edinburg no longer leaks. A representative of SCS Engineers, a consulting firm working with the county on a landfill gas collection project, will apprise the board of the efforts to fix the problem. DEQ officials also are expected to attend.

DEQ waste groundwater specialist Laura Stuart said Friday the county has until March 15 to submit its corrective action plan. While the county does need to fix the problem, Stuart noted that the groundwater contamination has not affected wells of several nearby homes since at least 2005.

The DEQ has been monitoring groundwater in the area of the landfill since the mid 1990s after the facility closed, Stuart said. Contamination appeared in groundwater tested in the late 1990s.

Stuart, who works in the DEQ's Valley Regional Office for the Division of Land Protection and Revitalization, said the agency in 2005 advised the county that it needed to remediate the leak problem. The corrective action plan was approved. Routine testing of groundwater and additional, corrective action monitoring continued, Stuart said. Part of the corrective action calls for the county to submit reports to DEQ. A report in 2008 raised concerns at the DEQ.

"I felt, technically, there were some gaps in some of the well coverage, that we may not be seeing all of the problems," Stuart recalled.

DEQ spent the next two years trying to install more wells used to test groundwater in the area. The DEQ in 2010 found the county's first corrective action plan to be inadequate, prompting additional work, Stuart said. The proximity of Interstate 81 next to the landfill posed difficulties. Stuart said the agency had to deal not only with the interstate right-of-way but also the private property owners on Ox Road. DEQ had to find drilling contractors who could install testing wells in the interstate median, Stuart said.

"The county has gone through and done all of the steps that we have asked them to do as far as installing the wells and the required sampling," Stuart said.

Since the original corrective action plan approved in 2005, the county has been required to monitor wells at the five or six homes along Ox Road directly across from the old landfill, as well as surface water in Passage Creek.

"We've not seen any indication of a problem with their wells," Stuart said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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