Fredericksburg Fined for High Methane Gas Levels at Old Landfill
Cool Springs Road Landfill closed in 1996, but city has since struggled with state standards.
The Fredericksburg City Council agreed to pay a $13,965 fine to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) for having high methane gas readings at the old Cool Springs Road Landfill on two separate occasions.
A consent order with the Virginia Waste Management Board for two violations in May and October 2011 was approved at City Council's meeting Tuesday. VDEQ usually issues consent orders to bring the locality into compliance with the regulations. The draft consent order from January originally fined the city $19,950, but city officials were able to negotiate the fine down to $13,965.
Doug Fawcett, the city's director of public works, said the city owns the 90-acre landfill in south Stafford at the end of Hot Top Road, across the railroad tracks from the Chaplin Youth Center. The facility hasn't accepted waste since 1986, but the landfill was not officially closed until 1996. The city is required to maintain the property for 25 years after the closure date, Fawcett said.
Fawcett said the city has faced various challenges over the years with the methane gas extraction system and public works has tried to address each issue as it had surfaced. Methane is flammable, and can cause asphyxiation at very high concentrations.
"The post-closure management of the facility consists mainly of monitoring and managing groundwater and methane gas generated on the property," according to a staff report explaining the consent order. "There are underground monitoring and collection systems for both groundwater and methane gas. The methane gas extraction system consists of piping that forms a loop around the portion of the property that was used for disposal of municipal solid waste. The methane gas that is collected through the extraction system is then burned at a flare on the property."
Fawcett said one example of a problem public works addressed several years ago was expanding the methane extraction system to make a complete loop surrounding the waste area after the city found high gas readings in monitoring wells near the Chaplin Youth Center.
In 2011, the city again discovered high methane gas readings at several monitoring wells on the property and the VDEQ took notice of the violations. Fawcett said these high readings happened during periods of heavy rain that allowed water to flow into the extraction system headers, which caused the extraction system to fail. Fawcett said public works employees installed piping to collect water that flows into the headers and the piping sends that water to a manhole. Fawcett also said a contractor installed the pumps and compressors needed to make this piping system operational.
"The actions the City has recently taken should provide a long term solution for the methane gas issues," Fawcett said.