Ac­tions taken to lower meth­ane lev­els at county land­fill

Private con­sul­tant takes read­ings

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

Though meth­ane gas was re­cently de­tected at lower ex­plo­sive lev­els at many dif­fer­ent points around the county land­fill, of­fi­cials say cor­rec­tive ac­tions have since been taken to rem­edy the prob­lem.

A March re­port on meth­ane lev­els at the Lower River Road Land­fill by a private con­sul­tant found meth­ane at con­cen­tra­tion lev­els equal­ing or ex­ceed­ing the Lower Ex­plo­sive Limit of 5 per­cent at three de­tec­tion mon­i­tor­ing lo­ca­tions, eight trench vent lo­ca­tions and three meth­ane con­trol wells.

Robert Krasko, the ge­ol­o­gist with Ge­or­gia En­vi­ron­men­tal & Man­age­ment Ser­vices Inc. who per­formed the in­spec­tion, said a lack of rou­tine mon­i­tor­ing in the past of meth­ane lev­els at the land­fill had re­sulted in fail­ures of sev­eral of the com­po­nents of the sys­tem used to mon­i­tor and vent the meth­ane gas gen­er­ated at the land­fill.

“ Based on the data that’s pre­sented in that re­port meth-

ane gas is be­ing de­tected at some of the well lo­ca­tions and along the prop­erty line,” Krasko said.

Meth­ane, a highly po­tent green­house gas, is a byprod­uct of the de­com­po­si­tion process and can be com­bustible if high con­cen­tra­tions of it are reached in an en­closed space.

Krasko said the LEL lev­els of meth­ane did not pose an im­mi­nent health risk to any­one but could, if al­lowed to con­tinue, re­sult in the loss of nearby veg­e­ta­tion such as grass and trees due to a lack of ad­e­quate oxy­gen.

The two clos­est oc­cu­pied build­ings, the land­fill scale house used to weigh garbage trucks and the New­ton County An­i­mal Con­trol build­ing are only oc­cu­pied in the day­time. Krasko said no meth­ane was de­tected at the scale house.

De­spite the as­sur­ances of of­fi­cials, some res­i­dents on Lower River Road want the county to test for meth­ane gas near their prop­er­ties.

“ I’m truly alarmed about hear­ing [ about the] ex­plo­sive gases,” said J. McKen­zie, a res­i­dent of Lower River Road at a sparsely at­tended pub­lic meet­ing last Thurs­day on the pro­posed ex­pan­sion of the land­fill. “ I don’t want the land­fill there pe­riod.”

At the meet­ing Dis­trict 4 Com­mis­sioner J. C. Henderson asked his fel­low com­mis­sion­ers to con­sider test­ing for meth­ane across the street from the land­fill near the private res­i­dences.

“ Those are peo­ple that I love,” Henderson said of the res­i­dents liv­ing on Lower River Road in a speech dur­ing Sun­day’s Black Easter event. “ We need to be jump­ing up and down and have them test ev­ery inch of soil.”

Be­cause no hu­man lives were in jeop­ardy, Krasko said the cor­rec­tive ac­tions on the land­fill were given a lower pri­or­ity level than other land­fill sites in the state. Cor­rec­tive ac­tions were taken on March 13 Krasko said.

While LEL lev­els of meth­ane gas were de­tected be­yond the fence line of the land­fill, Krasko said the ge­o­log­i­cal con­di­tions of the area kept the gas from mi­grat­ing across the street.

“ If you draw a line from the scale house to the an­i­mal con­trol, [ de­tected meth­ane gas] has all been south,” Krasko said.

Ac­cord­ing to Krasko, some of the cor­ru­gated drainage pipes used to vent the meth­ane gas had be­come clogged or turned into the ground, pre­vent­ing free flow vent­ing. Krasko said those pipes have now been fixed, are vent­ing smoothly and will be mon­i­tored monthly.

The flare used to burn the meth­ane was also de­ter­mined not to be work­ing dur­ing the in­spec­tion. Ac­cord­ing to Krasko’s re­port a new ig­niter and blower mo­tor have been or­dered and should be in­stalled shortly.

The Lower River Road Land­fill has four waste sites. Of the 88 acres cur­rently per­mit­ted for dis­posal, 14 have been used with­out a liner sys­tem for mu­nic­i­pal solid waste while 37 are cur­rently used with a liner sys­tem.

“ His­tor­i­cally the old [ Mu­nic­i­pal Solid Waste] Unit 1 has had gas mi­gra­tion is­sues,” Krasko said. “ By cur­rent stan­dards it’s too close to the road, but it was per­mit­ted at a time when that close­ness was al­lowed. What we see at th­ese old land­fills that are un­lined is that gas tends to vent to the sur­face and will mi­grate a cou­ple hun­dred feet.”

Krasko said the cou­ple hun­dred of feet the meth­ane could travel was not far enough for it to cross Lower River Road and come into con­tact with private res­i­dences.

At the Thurs­day meet­ing, the BOC ap­proved a pro­posal to ex­pand the land­fill’s ca­pac­ity by fill­ing un­oc­cu­pied space be­tween the four waste sites. The pro­posal en­tails no new land pur­chases and would not move the waste closer to private res­i­dences but shift it slightly fur­ther away.

The pro­posal also en­tails mov­ing all waste into a sin­gle large land­fill lined with sev­eral feet of com­pacted clay and a high- den­sity poly­eth­yl­ene ma­te­rial. Krasko said the com­bined ef­fect of the liner and clay would cre­ate “ an ex­tremely low per­me­able un­der­ly­ing layer” mak­ing it very dif­fi­cult for meth­ane gas to leave the site.

“Any­thing that could be re­leased would be re­leased at such a slow rate that the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment could as­sim­i­late them,” Krasko said.

Ac­cord­ing to the pre­sen­ta­tion given at the pub­lic meet­ing by the con­sul­tant firm Richard­son, Smith, Gard­ner & As­so­ciates, all pro­posed ex­pan­sion work will oc­cur within the bound­aries of the cur­rent solid waste fa­cil­ity per­mit­ted in 1987. All cur­rent buf­fers to ad­ja­cent prop­erty own­ers and to the river will be main­tained.

The shift­ing of all waste into lined land­fills is ex­pected to elim­i­nate any fu­ture ground wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion from ex­ist­ing un­lined land­fills.

Krasko said be­cause the Ge­or­gia En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Di­vi­sion had not pre­vi­ously re­quired rou­tine mon­i­tor­ing of meth­ane lev­els, no mon­i­tor­ing was un­der­taken by the con­sul­tants pre­vi­ously em­ployed by the county to mon­i­tor the land­fill. When the county switched private con­sul­tants, Krasko said his com­pany was hired to mon­i­tor meth­ane lev­els.

“ It took me about two months to get a han­dle on things,” Krasko said. “ I re­al­ized there had been no main­te­nance on the cor­rec­tive ac­tions that had been put in place over there.”

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