Land­fill op­er­a­tions see some im­pact from daily soil cover

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal.com

Op­er­a­tions at the Grady Road Land­fill took a dra­matic change back in May when a court or­der re­quired them to go from us­ing a tarp and spray on cov­ers to six inches of soil each day at the site off High­way 278.

The hill formed by the fill­ing of cells on the north­east side of the site is vis­i­ble from the high­way be­tween Cedar­town and Rock­mart, and if op­er­a­tions con­tinue as-is, the site is likely to grow in height as well.

Waste In­dus­tries’ Ge­orge Gib­bons, who man­ages the site, wouldn’t specif­i­cally com­ment on the record since he is in­volved with the law­suit be­tween his com­pany and the county. He did, how­ever, pro­vide ac­cess and in­for­ma­tion about op­er­a­tions on the site in a re­cent tour of the land­fill at the be­gin­ning of Au­gust.

Cur­rently, waste is be­ing dumped on the op­po­site slope of what’s vis­i­ble from the road­way and with thou­sands of cu­bic yards of soil be­ing moved in lay­ers on a daily ba­sis, space is be­gin­ning to fill up faster than ex­pected. At the same time, em­ploy­ees on the site have been busy when the weather re­mains dry dig­ging out a new cell set to be­gin re­ceiv­ing new loads of trash in the years to come and process the soil for re­use on the site.

That cell is still in the early stages of prepa­ra­tion, and will even­tu­ally cost mil­lions of dol­lars of ma­te­ri­als and man-hours to pre­pare as part of over­all in­vest­ment in the fa­cil­ity as a whole.

As heavy ma­chines moved over one por­tion of the site, trail­ers were be­ing emp­tied onto the work­ing face of the land­fill dozens of feet over­head. One day in the dis­tant fu­ture, the two el­e­va­tions will meet as one.

The work is on­go­ing for Gib­bons and the Waste In­dus­tries em­ploy­ees on-site to take in new loads of trash daily, de­spite lim­i­ta­tions put in place by Judge Adele Grubbs, who is presiding over the law­suit be­tween Polk County and Waste In­dus­tries via their sub­sidiary and orig­i­nal con­tract holder, ETC of Ge­or­gia.

Prior to a tem­po­rary in­junc­tion put in place in early May by Grubbs, the land­fill worked ba­si­cally this way: trash was brought into the land­fill from the early morn­ing hours un­til the late af­ter­noon from var­i­ous sources, com­pacted by heavy equip­ment after be­ing un­loaded on a por­tion be­ing used called the work­ing face, and then trucks had to stop and clean out the back of their trail­ers be­fore they left.

When op­er­a­tors at the land­fill were done for the day, they brought in a giant tarp to cover the area where trash is be­ing dumped for the time be­ing, and in re­cent years added a sprayon cov­er­ing that was used to help con­tain the smells.

Ad­di­tional requiremen­ts were then placed on Waste In­dus­tries in their op­er­a­tions, re­quir­ing that six inches of soil be used daily to cover the work­ing face of the land­fill, con­tinue odor and pest con­trol ef­forts, and much more. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the com­pany on sev­eral oc­ca­sions have cited their hope is that those requiremen­ts will be over­turned by the Court of Ap­peals, with a date not yet of­fi­cially sat down on the docket for it to be ar­gued on the state level.

Via data shown off by Gib­bons dur­ing the tour, those ef­forts be­ing re­ported on daily by the com­pany and by the county’s representa­tive for the land­fill Jerry Barker dif­fer from one an­other, but point to some pos­i­tive re­sults to­ward cur­tail­ing odor prob­lems at the land­fill and that ad­e­quate daily soil cover is be­ing used.

Data from both Waste In­dus­tries and the county did in some cases point to is­sues with main­tain­ing the six inches of daily soil cover, but those were recorded dur­ing days when heavy rain­fall was mov­ing through Polk County dur­ing the month of June.

There are con­cerns about prob­lems caused by the ad­di­tion of soil be­ing placed over garbage on a daily ba­sis. For in­stance, the liq­uid waste cre­ated by the com­pact­ing and break­down of waste in the land­fill called leachate can build up when soil lay­ers are con­tin­u­ally com­pacted, and if it meets a layer of soil and can’t push through to where the col­lec­tion sys­tem at the bot­tom of a cell can in­stead move side­ways and push out the side­walls of the land­fill, specif­i­cally in cells not yet capped off and closed.

Then there are ad­di­tional prob­lems caused by the soil lay­ers for the meth­ane col­lec­tion sys­tem. Cur­rently there are 72 wells on site that are dug through capped and tem­po­rar­ily closed por­tions of the land­fill gen­er­at­ing gas from the same process of break­down and com­paction that forms leachate.

Meth­ane at the Grady Road Land­fill is col­lected, pumped out and then burned off with a sys­tem on the site. That sys­tem works fine when the wells are dug down ver­ti­cally and unim­peded along the way by soil or rock. With the ad­di­tional lay­ers of soil added in, the gas col­lec­tion sys­tem will then be forced to dig hor­i­zon­tally to get to trapped meth­ane and pull it out, cost­ing ad­di­tional dol­lars to an al­ready ex­pen­sive mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar process.

If ei­ther or both prob­lems are ad­e­quately con­trolled, the build-up of trapped liq­uids and soils will be­gin bust­ing out the sides of the land­fill and cause ma­jor prob­lems with the in­tegrity of the slopes, the sys­tems used to process liq­uids and gases, and much more.

The in­clu­sion of soil over trash daily will also likely cause growth ver­ti­cally more than pre­vi­ously ex­pected. An ad­di­tional 100 feet of airspace is avail­able above where the top of the north­east slope sits cur­rently un­used, and might be taken up should the growth of soil lay­ers force the loss of airspace.

For now, the op­er­a­tions at the land­fill con­tinue for­ward mainly as usual. Loads con­tinue to come in daily, and work­ers con­tinue to get ready for more in the fu­ture.

kevin Myrick

The Grady Road Land­fill’s work­ing face rose sev­eral feet ver­ti­cally in the past months due to the in­clu­sion of soil as daily cover.

Work to pre­pare a new cell space for garbage re­mains un­der­way as the weather was dry dur­ing an Au­gust 1 tour of the Grady Road Land­fill.

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