County landfill project to start this summer

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County officials say they expect work on its landfill to begin this summer.

Landfill Director Patrick Felling and representatives with SCS Engineers gave the Board of Supervisors an update on the project Tuesday. The schedule calls for construction of a new cell to commence in July once the county awards a contract. Sealed bids for the project are due June 30.

The current budget includes $2.1 million for the project. The total cost remains unknown.

Crews could break ground in late July or August, Felling said. The contract would call for the project to reach substantial completion within 180 days. The county would begin using the cell once the Department of Environmental Quality approves the permit that could occur later this summer after the agency holds a 30-day, public comment period.

Felling outlined the construction sequence: Crews would install the stormwater system then begin clearing and excavation of the site. They would put in a layer of clay and then a “geomembrane” liner before installing an under-drain system. Crews would put down a layer of protective soil before using the cell.

The county uses two cells at the landfill referred to as Phases I and II. Phase III will be constructed adjacent to the existing site.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll have sufficient space left in Phases I and II, where we are now, to put the larger … what we call the ‘rough waste,'” Felling said. “We don’t want to put rough waste at the bottom of our brand new cell. We would like to put soft, fluffy, fast-food wrappers down there as a buffer.”

SCS Engineers also recently began a survey to determine how long the county can continue to use Phases I and II. Felling said officials and the engineers didn’t want to have the construction continuing past the end of the existing cells’ life.

The county and SCS also are working together to mitigate the infiltration of methane gas, formed as trash decomposes, from seeping into the groundwater. A system installed in the landfill, including the closed cell No. 8, collects methane and directs it to a device that burns off the gas. The closed cell is the likely source of most of the methane leaking into the groundwater, Felling said. The old cell, installed before federal guidelines on landfills were imposed, does not have a liner.

The county has several wells dug around the landfill used to collect and monitor the levels of methane and other chemicals in the groundwater. The county has had probes installed in wells around the cells in use to rule out any instances of migration of chemicals and methane. One well recently showed increased levels of methane, spurring the county and the DEQ to install extraction wells in an effort to pull methane from the site.

Supervisor Cindy Bailey reiterated her criticism of the county’s spending on methods to keep landfill gas and chemicals from leaving the landfill. Bailey has argued that putting a cap on the closed cell would help dry up the trash underneath and limit the amount of methane from seeping out of the landfill. However, Jennifer Robb, with SCS Engineering, said such a cap would not help reduce the amount of methane in the old landfill. The trash in the old cell would likely continue to produce methane for decades even with a cap.

“It’s not going to solve the problem,” Robb said. “The trash still has to decompose.”

Bailey acknowledged that she knows a cap would not immediately solve the problem but could help the situation. Bailey cited a previous study by Joyce Engineering that indicated a cap would help. She said the county was spinning its wheels by drilling more wells.

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