‘Do not let this happen’

Published 8:43 am Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Donald Gee

After-effects of a now closed landfill at 576 Shelburn Lane in Lunenburg, including reported green water, brought residents to the Lunenburg Board of Supervisors Thursday, particularly after adjoining property owners received a letter that said the post-closure water monitoring is tentatively terminated.

Donald Gee, an attorney based in the Richmond area, and whose mother lives in Lunenburg, spoke on behalf of neighbors and residents about their concerns after hearing that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reached a tentative agreement with the engineer and the company that owns the closed landfill to terminate post-closure monitoring of the Weaver Industrial Waste Landfill, which includes monitoring the water of the adjoining landowners.

County Administrator Tracy Gee said that the county became involved with the Weaver Landfill because the company could not follow procedures for zoning correctly and violated several zoning ordinances. This eventually led to the landfill closing due to not being in compliance with local zoning laws. At the time, Tracy said the company was applying to expand.

“They went from expanding to closing,” Tracy said.

Tracy said the landfill violated the following sections of the zoning ordinance that led to its eventual closure: Sec. 2-1-28: Operating the use without the required CUP; Sec. 6-5-1: Extending and enlarging a non-conforming structure in a manner that does not conform with the provisions of the ordinance; Sec. 7-1-1: Failure to obtain a zoning permit and Sec. 7-3-1: Failure to obtain CUP.

Tracy said if post-closure monitoring is eliminated, that means the landowners would have to pay for their own water monitoring, which could be expensive.

Donald said he grew up in Lunenburg, and remembers that the residents of Shelburn Lane, prior to the landfill, took pride in how clean their water was.

He said residents began noticing problems within the first year or two after the landfill was installed.

He said if residents allowed the water to sit out for a day or two, it would turn green.

“Everybody wants to do what? They want to make a profit off of our natural resources without paying the consequences of what may come into effect after the fact,” Donald said about the landfill company’s impact on the county.

The landfill, Donald and Tracy said, accepted parts of buildings that had been torn down and are believed to contain asbestos.

Donald said after the meeting while discoloration of water is not a known effect of asbestos, that it creates concern of what could be in the water, prompting the necessity of having the water tested.

“I’m so tired of buying Aquafina, and Deer Park, and everything else for my Mama, but I do it,” Donald said. He thanked the board for hearing his concern. He entreated them to get involved and send a clear message to the DEQ to not allow the post-closure monitoring to be terminated.

“Don’t let this happen,” Donald said. “Please, do not let this happen.”

The engineering company that currently oversees the closed landfill is Draper Aden Associates based in Richmond.

A representative of the company provided a letter that details the process that led to the tentative agreement between Draper Aden and DEQ.

According to the letter from Weaver Landfill, LLC, the agreement would mean that groundwater monitoring, surface water management, stormwater management, final cover system activities and maintenance of associated appurtenances would be terminated.

The letter from Phil Peet, listed as a representative of Weaver Landfill, LLC asked that residents comment about the agreement. The comment period, which started Sept. 10, ends Oct. 5, and participants are asked to send information to Leonard Neal Ford, Jr. at Draper Aden Associates, at 8090 Villa Park Drive, Henrico, Virginia, 23228, via email at rford@daa.com or via fax at (804) 264-8773.

“All comments must include the name, address and telephone number of the person commenting,” the letter cited. “To be considered, all comments must be received by Draper Aden Associates within the prescribed comment period.”

To learn more about the post-closure process, Peet asked residents to contact Christopher Keehan at the DEQ, who can be reached at christopher.keehan@deq.virginia.gov.

Tracy said she contacted Keehan, who told her the best way to move forward was to have concerned landowners pick a representative and have that person funnel all of their concerns via email or fax.

Tracy said she was unsure if the county had the authority to bend the decision of DEQ, but encouraged the board to support the landowners.

Donald said if it wasn’t for the support of the county, the landfill could still continue to indiscriminately bring in items that could be hazardous to peoples’ health.

“There’s nothing from case laws statutorily that says you can’t go further, and the governing body can, they can require even more stringent activity to be done,” Donald said. “I plan on living about another 30 years, my mom is 85, I hope she lives another 30 years. But we do have another generation that’s living down (there) on Shelburn Lane. And we’d like to know that it’s safe.”