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County Refuse District makes plans for landfill closure

LOCKPORT – Preliminary work leading up to the planned capping of the Niagara County construction and demolition landfill will be on Tuesday’s County Legislature agenda.

The lawmakers will consider a $118,300 contract with Environmental Service Group to check out the condition of the liner in the bottom of the landfill, which the county shut down last summer.

The contract with the City of Tonawanda company also includes work at Landfill 2, a long-closed landfill near the construction and demolition landfill on the Lockport Bypass.

Acting Refuse District Director Dawn M. Timm said the state Department of Environmental Conservation has been complaining about landfill gas migration at Landfill 2.

The plan is to dig a trench in the landfilled waste, 200 feet long, 3 feet wide and 16 feet deep. The contractor would then install leachate collectors and gas vents in the trench, leading the material to a collection tank.

There had been talk of somehow deriving some benefit from the landfill gas, but Timm squelched that notion.

“Landfill 2 is definitely an older design,” Timm said at last week’s Refuse District board meeting. “It doesn’t generate enough methane that it would be cost-effective to capture it and use it for other purposes.”

The county also has been pursuing an investigation of leaching liquid from Landfill 1, another closed landfill in Lockport, and whether the leachate is reaching the groundwater.

During the week of Oct. 13, five monitoring wells were installed around the perimeter of the landfill, Timm said. Their purpose is “to prove or disprove the migration of leachate off the site.”

A geophysical analysis of the cracks in the bedrock beneath the landfill has been done, and test pits have been dug to check further into the landfill’s integrity. Sampling from monitoring wells also has been stepped up.

“This landfill, for want of a better term, has been misbehaving since 1988,” Timm said. Refuse District files show correspondence about the site’s concerns dating back to the early 1980s.

Timm also has handed in a proposed 2015 district budget of $770,000, up $23,389 from this year’s. The average tax rate increase is half a penny per $1,000 of assessed valuation. A property tax to support the district is collected everywhere in the county except in the towns of Cambria, Newfane, Wilson and Niagara, which never joined the Refuse District.

The reasons for the increase are expected higher labor costs for pumping leachate away from the construction and demolition landfill, and the compilation of data and the remediation of the leaky cap at Landfill 1. Timm proposed to spend less on Landfill 2 “after this gas bubble issue is resolved.”