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Niagara County to cap landfill, design repair plan for another

LOCKPORT – A plan to install a permanent cap on one of the three Lockport landfills owned by the Niagara County Refuse Disposal District, as well as to repair the cap on another, has been approved by the County Legislature.

The district plans to start work in mid-April on the new cap and a collection system for liquid leachate at the construction and demolition, or C&D, landfill, along with repairs to the cap and the leachate and storm water systems at Landfill 2, according to Dawn M. Timm, the interim district director.

However, she said 2016 will see only design work on repairs to the leachate collection system and liner at Landfill 1, where the county is negotiating a consent order with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

All three landfills are located along Route 93, the Lockport Bypass, in the Town of Lockport.

The Legislature’s action acknowledges the total cost of maintaining all three landfills won’t be as low as the $2 million figure Timm and a consultant gave the lawmakers in May.

The Legislature then authorized borrowing $2 million for work on all three landfills, but it turned out that wasn’t enough.

The Legislature’s Dec. 8 vote approved a $2.5 million bond issue, but that may not be enough for all three landfills, either.

Timm said the estimated combined cost of the work at the C&D landfill and Landfill 2 will be $1.6 million to $1.7 million. That will leave about $800,000 to be applied to the work at Landfill 1. The bids for all three, including Landfill 1, totaled about $2.5 million before Landfill 1 was removed from the bid package.

Timm’s plan calls for using the New Year “to systematically address all the issues with Landfill 1,” she said at a Nov. 24 committee meeting.

Those issues include leaking of landfill gas because of a weak cap atop the landfill, migration of waste outside the boundaries of the landfill and problems with controlling and collecting liquid leachate from the landfill.

The DEC called a plan to install two permanent leachate collection tanks an “interim measure.”

“Any upgrade to Landfill 1 would be seen as interim in nature,” Timm said.

The cost of the $2.5 million borrowing for taxpayers is minimal, estimated at 92 cents on the property tax bill for a house assessed at $110,000. The Refuse District tax is imposed as part of the county tax bill everywhere in the county except in the towns of Cambria, Newfane, Niagara and Wilson. Those towns never joined the district when it was formed in the 1970s.

The district also owns an inactive landfill in Wheatfield, and last month the district board, comprising only county legislators, approved a monitoring services contract with the GHD engineering firm for $13,380 a month, which Timm said was an 81 percent reduction from the previous contract.

The district would like to recover the costs of maintaining the landfill from the companies that sent waste there decades ago, but Timm said those efforts “will be a real uphill battle” because of the statute of limitations.