Landfill meeting raises questions

Published 10:15 am Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A public information meeting meant to give information about a nowclosed landfill resulted in questions and concerns from neighboring residents of the landfill, county residents and county supervisors.

The information meeting was held Thursday at the Victoria Public Library from 6-8 p.m.

Weaver Landfill, LLC representative Phil Peet and engineering company Draper Aden representative Dr. Leonard Neal “Rip” Ford gave presentations on the landfill and the reasons the company is asking the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to terminate post-closure monitoring requirements.

Ford said the water monitoring tests are conducted once every six months.

The landfill, located at 576 Shelburn Lane, shut down in the early 2000s due to numerous violations that it received from the county that included operating without the required conditional use permit (CUP) and failure to obtain both a CUP and zoning ordinance.

The landfill, which reportedly opened in 1984, accepted items with asbestos in addition to other items that neighbors said were not regulated nor inspected.

DEQ, according to the presentation given by Peet and Ford, issued the permit in 1985 for an Industrial Landfill. The owner of the landfill, Thomas Weaver, sold the landfill to Crippen Companies in 1985. Weaver Industrial Landfill Inc. is owned by SLC Real Estate Holdings Inc., which is owned by SLC Corporation. Sandra L. Crippen is considered the sole stakeholder of SLC Corporation.

According to Peet and Ford the permit allowed asbestos products. Ford said the asbestos products were most likely placed in bags or in steel barrels.

Ford said currently, the groundwater is tested through obtaining samples at wells located close to the landfill site. He said the samples are then sent to laboratories to test for levels of chemical substances. Ford said the majority of post-closure monitoring costs come from the laboratory company Draper Aden and Weaver Landfill hires.

Peet said the cost of post-closure monitoring for the company comes to approximately $40,000 a year.

In response to questions from audience members about whether asbestos levels are tested in the groundwater, Ford said it is not. In response to a question from an audience member, Ford said asbestos does not dissolve in groundwater, and said there are not requirements from the DEQ to test for asbestos levels in groundwater.

Ford said that groundwater moves slowly, that it would most likely run downhill from the landfill and run into a stream that’s below the hill.

Rene Gee, whose home is located close to the landfill at Shelburn Lane, attended the meeting with her son, Donald.

Rene, who is in her 80s, spoke about discolored water she has experienced for years, ranging from green to pink.

Ford said he could test the water on Rene’s property.

In response to statements from Ford that the asbestos would not pose a danger to residents, Donald asked why the DEQ would require testing for chemicals if they would not pose risks to residents.

“What we’re talking about is life versus a cost analysis,” Donald said.

Ford, addressing the water quality, cited that the water located in the monitoring wells around the landfill have been tested and are considered safe enough to drink.

He said that past tests at monitoring wells further downhill from the landfill found levels of trichlorofluoromethane (Freon 11) and dichloroethane in the monitoring wells that exceeded the standard amount for drinking water. Freon, he said, is used in refrigerators and he said has been found to not be environmentally friendly.

He also cited a chemical, dichloroethane, that exceeded the levels. Dichloroethane, according to documentation from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is described as a manufactured chemical used in production of plastic and vinyl materials. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Toxicology Program with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cite dichloroethane as a probable human carcinogen, possibly carcinogenic to humans and reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen respectively.

Ford said the measurements used in the tests constitutes measurements of particles per billion, comparing the measurement to measuring a half-teaspoon of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool at 660,000 gallons.

“Who cares if it’s tiny if it’s unhealthy?” Ford said.

He said the landfill company injected bacteria and other material in four wells they installed that could help degrade the chemicals.

“We didn’t want this stuff to ever leave the property,” Ford said.

This report sparked concerns and questions from residents of Shelburn Lane, and county officials.

Jimmie Crawford lives on Shelburn Lane. He said he remembers seeing, and smelling substances enter the landfill that were questionable at best. He said he smelled what could be described as “pure acid.”

“After so many years, those barrels deteriorate,” Crawford said, “and then what happens to the liquid in the barrels?”

He and neighboring residents said when the landfill was installed in the late 1980s, they were not notified by the county of the landfill until approximately six months after it was established.

“No matter what was put in the landfill, no matter what leaks out of it, based on the groundwater flood system, I believe it can never hurt anybody who lives on Shelburn Lane,” Ford said.

Participants noted the excessive amounts of rainfall the county received due to hurricanes Florence and Michael and expressed concern about potential erosion of the landfill site. Rainfall, and other natural occurrences such as earthquakes, participant Trudy Berry said, “shifts that ground, those barrels, those bags, those liners that have been used in landfills now, they don’t last forever. They tear. They break. They’re shifting underground.”

Berry spoke about the potential for wildlife to consume groundwater containing asbestos.

“It’s too dangerous,” Berry said. “And I think based on not really knowing for sure how asbestoses vary, … it needs to be monitored for at least another three decades.”

Del. Tommy Wright attended the meeting and spoke asking the representatives to consider those living closest to the landfill.

“At least they have some confidence knowing there’s some monitoring going on,” Wright said. Echoing other speakers, Wright said, “nobody knows for sure exactly what may be in there.”

Berry said areas with asbestos are supposed to be labeled and fenced.

Loves Mill Supervisor Edward Pennington and County Administrator Tracy Gee expressed concern about the widespread impact that the shuttering of post-closure monitoring would have not only on the residents of Shelburn Lane, but on all residents of Lunenburg.

“We use this water,” Pennington said about county residents. “I know you all wouldn’t do anything to hurt or harm anyone, and I know you are doing the best you can.”

Pennington asked if there was potential for error in the tests conducted by the landfill company or its results.

“Possibly,” Ford said. “Nothing’s absolutely positive … It’s extremely unlikely that the laboratory data are significantly wrong.”

“If it flows into the stream, it’s of concern for the entire county,” Tracy said about the groundwater or asbestos material. “That would be my concern. It’s not just for the folks on Shelburn Lane. It’s for the folks that live downstream from the landfill, and for our children’s children.”

Tracy asked if the landfill owner could provide tests and results on lesser intervals as an alternative to its current post-closure testing, particularly in reference to the concerning health effects of asbestos and other materials that may have entered the landfill.

Ford said he would consult the landfill owner.

In a statement from DEQ representative Greg Bilyeu, he listed the next steps for DEQ in reference to the Weaver Landfill.

“DEQ is waiting on the facility owner to submit documentation that will provide a summary on the public comment period (comments received and how they were addressed),” Bilyeu said. “Once we get that information, DEQ will then review and move forward with a decision on their request to terminate post-closure care. There is no timeline on their submission, but once DEQ receives it we have 90 days to make a decision on the request.”