County moves forward on landfill work

By Alex Bridges

A state agency may let Shenandoah County move ahead with a plan to extend the life of its landfill and protect the environment.

The Board of Supervisors took action Tuesday, asking County Administrator Mary Beth T. Price to work with SCS Engineers as the firm applies to the Department of Environmental Quality for an amendment to the county’s landfill permit. The vote was unanimous. The board already had discussed the matter and heard from SCS Engineers at previous meetings.

The plan also should save the county at least $2 million on a needed expansion of the landfill as cells reach the end of their life span, officials have said. Engineers say this approach also should help cut down on the amount of chemicals that leak from the unlined, closed cells.

Price explained to the board that the permit changes, if approved, would allow the engineering firm to move forward on a project expected to extend the life of the landfill by 10-15 years. At the board’s April 8 meeting, Price described the situation as a total redesign of the landfill cells 3 through 9. Such a design requires the county seek an amendment to its landfill permit. The state issued the county’s current permit in the late 1990s.

At the April 8 meeting, Price credited Brad Dellinger, landfill operations manager, for contacting the firm and inquiring about the idea of putting waste on top of parts of the closed cells. As Price explained in a previous meeting, the new Phases 1-9 would “piggyback” onto the closed portion of the landfill, known as cells 8 and 9. Price told the board this would not only give the county additional landfill space but also covers the cells that were never lined. The older, closed cells, were built and used before environmental regulations required liners for landfills.

The project calls for the county to cap portions of cells 8 and 9 that would allow for fill to be placed on top of those sections. This approach creates an additional 1 million cubic yards of landfill space.

SCS Engineers representatives have said the “piggy back” approach also should reduce the amount of stormwater that infiltrates the old landfill and comes out as leachate. The county previously installed a system that removes the gas created within the landfill as materials degrade. The system pipes the gas to a point where it is burned off.

The “piggyback” design serves as a component of the different control measures implemented by SCS Engineers to address the leaking issues associated with the closed landfill cells. Groundwater near the landfill tested positive for some metals and other chemicals. The landfill gas system and the “piggyback” approach to expanding the landfill should help reduce the leaking, the engineering firm representatives have said.

Information from the engineering firm indicates that the DEQ supports the “piggyback” approach because it means the closed cells would be recapped with a membrane. “Piggyback” landfills are common in the state.

The county included in the current budget $125,000 to $150,000 to cover fees charged by SCS Engineers. The fiscal 2015 budget includes $20,000 needed to cover the fee for the DEQ permit modification application. The county can expect to save $2 million to $2.5 million by not excavating as deep into the rock under the landfill. The county would save $600,000 in the 2015 fiscal period during the construction of the third phase.

Additionally, by piggybacking onto the closed Cells 8 and 9, assuming the cost of a landfill cell is about $3 million, the county can expect to save $6 million on a cell life of five years.

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