2009-04-09 / Front Page

Landfill closure causes concern among residents

Town Council approves landfill closure plan
By Erin Tiernan

The Town Council decided to move forward with the landfill closure and proposed composting facility plans at its Monday night meeting after hearing recommendations from Town Engineer Michael Gray and concerns from residents.

The proposed design components to the landfill property on North Main Road include increased thickness of the soil cap; it will be 2-feet thick over areas with toxic waste. A drainage slope and implementation of a storm water management system will help control soil erosion at the site.

A compost pad will be placed over the cap of the closed solid waste landfill on a 4-inch thick asphalt pad to prevent disruption of the underlying waste. Gray said appropriate measures will be taken to ensure air quality and safety. The compost product will be sampled and temperature monitored to ensure it complies with Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The estimated cost of the project by GZA GeoEnvironmental is $820,994, including a 20 percent contingency for possible construction ambiguities.

Residents expressed concerns over costs, maintenance burdens to the town and the facility's affect on nearby properties.

Summit Avenue resident Daniel O'Neill said he is concerned that the 250-feet boundary line radius surrounding the facility will restrict the use of his property.

Gray said the compost facility would not affect neighboring properties. "It doesn't impact property use, but if a well or structure is built within the radius, it will impact our ability to operate."

O'Neill said health risks and odors from the site were also cause for concern. He cited Cornell Waste Management Institute's study of compost facilities and said residents within 500 meters of composting facilities complained more about general respiratory illnesses. He explained that even well-managed facilities generate odors at concentrations high enough to cause nausea within proximity of the site

"As a father of a son who takes allergy medication, I'm a little bit concerned about this," said O'Neill.

Another north-ender, Susan Little, urged the council to evaluate immediate and long term costs. She raised concerns about the requirements for operating registered composting facilities, explaining the high cost and burden to the town. She said the town would have to inspect all waste to be composted and maintain a proper ratio of leaves and brown material to grass clippings.

Little requested that the addendum monitoring post closure groundwater be included in the report because it impacts those who live near the landfill. She also wondered about the reclassifi cation of soil from class B to class C on the property.

"I find it highly suspect that all of a sudden this is class C soil," said Little. "GZA is having trouble containing all of the water on the landfill and this allows for seven times more water to flow off of the landfill than in historical calculations."

Pat Bolger met with Gray and Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and said they agreed on quarterly inspections of the property for the first two years after the closure to ensure that cover and slopes were holding properly. He said he wants their agreement documented so it will be sure to happen.

Bolger added that the town was taking a risk by doing all of this work on its own and recommended sending the project out to bid.

Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski agreed. "In this fiscal time, I can't imagine not going out to bid," she said. "Number one because of money value and number two, I can't imagine not looking to see if we can find the best of the best that does landfill closures as one of their major businesses."

Gray explained the benefit of maintaining a relationship with GZA since they provided the original plan and can help resolve problems that arise.

The council unanimously decided to direct its staff to begin procedures of abandonment on Summit Avenue and Holly Street.

Gray said the landfill's footprint must be larger. He suggested extending the property line to the east for a vegetative boarder because there is sludge is right up to Summit Avenue. He also recommended the abandonment of Holly Street to be maintained as a vegetative buffer and advised planting trees along North Main Road and the facility's entrance for aesthetic value.

The project does not include funding for planting trees, but Gray said the town has a tree planting budget and the species can be determined by the Tree Committee. After the closure of the landfill, the town will need special permission for any soil disturbance on site, so it is important to include tree planting as an element of the project's design, Gray said.

The compost facility will accept leaves, grass clippings and limited brush. Woody material does not break down.

Gray will take the plans to the state Department of Environmental Management for approval this week and said the project is expected to take two construction seasons to complete.

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