Moretown landfill operators propose new smell control plans
MORETOWN — State officials Wednesday were still reviewing a plan by Moretown Landfill Inc. to drastically realign its operations and avoid a mandatory closure.
On Friday and Monday, the company submitted responses to 12 alleged violations the state cited Nov. 20, saying the business would postpone its Cell 4 expansion application until May 1 to focus entirely on addressing the state’s concerns.
The state had said previously it had no confidence the company would be able to resolve long-standing odor issues, a necessary step for renewal of the landfill’s operating certificate. A decision on the certification could be made today.
In its latest response to the state’s concerns, the landfill’s parent company, Advanced Disposal, has proposed numerous measures for intervention, ranging from creating an odor task force that would include neighbors and town officials, to increasing its screening of trucks hauling particularly odorous sludge.
“Advanced Disposal understands that we must operate the Moretown facility in compliance with the law and we take our odor control obligation seriously,” the company stated in a letter Friday. “We fully understand that the current situation calls for significant, major changes.”
The company suggested that a major contributing factor to the ongoing odor problems has been the site’s topography and one business account’s extremely odorous sludge. The company’s letter, along with other related documents, is posted online at www.anr.state.vt.us/dec/wastediv/solid/moretown_landfill.htm.
The company’s response plan calls for, among other actions: Adding three new employees to deal with compliance issues and daily operations; spending more than $500,000 on improvements that would include a five-acre plastic covering called a geosynthetic membrane; and increasing screening of biosolids, including sludge.
In addition, Advanced Disposal proposes limiting the amount of exposed and intermediate landfill cover area to no more than six acres. The remainder of the landfill area would therefore be covered with either a temporary or permanent geosynthetic landfill capping system, the company said in its letter to state officials.
According to the company, that acreage will be substantially reduced in order to resolve the ongoing issues. The company’s regional landfill operations manager, Mark Harlacker, estimated the current open acreage to be around 10 or 12 acres.
There are currently 3.2 acres of Cell 2 and 12.6 acres of Cell 3 that would need to be capped if the landfill were to be closed, the company said.
Because the capping improvements can’t be put in place as the winter weather worsens, the company is also proposing a new landfill gas collection system, according to Barb Schwendtner, a staffer with the Agency of Natural Resources solid waste program.
The gas collection system will also have additional piping added to help reduce leachate — or “garbage juice” — that’s clogging some landfill wells and not flowing into drainage pipes, Schwendtner said. Leachate is hauled away from the landfill for treatment at a wastewater plant.
A third party would also be contracted to deal with monitoring, maintenance and reporting associated with the gas collection system.
Additional staffing suggested in the company’s proposal includes an experienced site manager for compliance and day-to-day operations, and two odor-control positions for gas system and cap maintenance duties, Harlacker said.
The odor task force will include two neighbors of the landfill, two company employees and two Moretown officials from the Select Board or Development Review Board. The group, which will have a voicemail box to receive complaints and serve as liaison between landfill management and area residents, could assemble as early as mid-January.
The cost to close the facility, which would be required if recertification is denied, could be $3.2 million.
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