Friday, August 7, 2009

Landfill coverage is national

Yesterday's DEP landfill update:

Crow Lane Landfill Update - August 6, 2009

This update is being provided as part of MassDEP’s commitment to more frequent communications with the residents and officials of Newburyport concerning the capping and closure of Crow Lane Landfill. MassDEP is actively monitoring conditions at the Landfill and in the neighborhoods, and directing the activities of our consultant (Shaw Environmental). In addition, we are closely reviewing complaints, deploying resources to investigate and document odor problems, and providing real-time communications to New Ventures about what we are seeing and smelling on the ground. In addition, we are conducting monitoring and sampling, as described below.

The Commissioner is closely tracking the situation at the landfill, including the complaints, the activities of MassDEP staff and Shaw, and New Ventures' progress toward closure of the landfill. New Ventures is required to cap (e.g., install the fabric membrane layer or FML on the landfill plus substantial loaming and seeding on top of the FML) by November 2009, under a Court-approved agreement. Installation of the FML is critical to solving the odor problems.

A key component to minimizing odor impacts during the closure is to promptly identify any landfill gas or leachate breakouts and quickly repair those spots. MassDEP has tasked Shaw with inspecting the landfill early each morning. Shaw then provides prompt notice to landfill personnel of breakout locations so that repairs can be made promptly. MassDEP tracks and monitors the problems and repairs at the landfill each day as well as progress toward closure. MassDEP updates the Attorney General's office frequently.

MassDEP continues to explore with New Ventures what additional measures any can be implemented to reduce odors during the closure.

Below are some additional updates and/or specifics:

1. Overnight monitoring was conducted in the neighborhood last night, August 5, 2009, using a Jerome Meter. In response to the pattern of recent complaints, MassDEP arranged for Shaw to begin conducting several nights of ambient air monitoring in the affected neighborhoods. We anticipate collecting several nights of data to better document the frequency and intensity of odors. This data will provide MassDEP with a better understanding of conditions in the neighborhoods and aid us in considering what additional measures might be implemented to improve the situation.

2. MassDEP staff and Shaw will be sampling landfill gas today, August 6, 2009, from several gas extraction wells at the landfill as well as the landfill gas entering and exiting the pretreatment system and entering the flare. This data will provide some insight into current gas levels within the landfill and also MassDEP determine whether the pretreatment system is operating as designed.

3. MassDEP has executed the revised contract with Shaw Environmental. With this "Change Order" in place, MassDEP can direct Shaw to conduct collection and analysis of:

(a) ambient air samples in the neighborhoods;
(b) samples of landfill gas entering and exiting the pretreatment system and flare;
(c) surface water and sediment samples from around the landfill, the vernal pool, and from leachate collections tanks.

(a) Ambient Air Sampling: MassDEP and Shaw are mobilizing to collect ambient air samples from the neighborhood for analysis. We are planning to collect samples beginning next week, which will be analyzed not just for hydrogen sulfide (H2S), but for a variety of potential constituents. In the meantime, as noted above, MassDEP has tasked Shaw to conduct some overnight air monitoring in the affected neighborhoods. Last night, August 5, 2009 was the first night.

(b) Landfill Gas Sampling: MassDEP staff and Shaw will be sampling landfill gas today, August 6, 2009, from several gas extraction wells at the landfill as well as the landfill gas entering and exiting the pretreatment system and entering the flare. At MassDEP's direction, Shaw has already begun, and will continue, to monitor the landfill gas at the pretreatment system and flare on a daily basis.

(c) Surface Water and Sediment Sampling: MassDEP and Shaw are mobilizing to undertake this sampling. Scheduling information will be provided once confirmed.

4. Jerome Meter Network: MassDEP has made progress toward installing additional Jerome meters around the landfill and expects to have a total of four (4) meters installed next week.

As Regional Director Dick Chalpin indicated in the prior e-mail, please send your questions, comments and suggestions to:

In addition to these email updates, correspondence and reports are posted in the MassDEP Northeast Region web site at:

Note: MassDEP anticipates sending additional updates by e-mail tomorrow, Friday, August 7, 2009.

Note that the landfill neighbors, who are sick and tired of the smell of rotten eggs wafting about their homes (I smelled it myself, yesterday, near the Shaw's Plaza), are now thinking about lawyers.

A couple of weeks ago, the editor of the Current wrote a piece about the law firm in St. Louis that had a blurb on its website about the Crow Lane landfill.

So now this Simon Law Firm yesterday released some more information, I'd guess in the hopes of garnering some business (one of their attorneys will be in MA soon, or is here already). Here's an excerpt:

"Capping a landfill is not an excuse for hydrogen sulfide releases," notes environmental lawyer Todd Hageman. "Landfill closures can be, and have been done, in ways which control and collect the landfill gas so that gasses, with their associated odors and physical effects, do not escape the facility's zone of discharge."

Hageman explains, "Hydrogen sulfide gas can be detected by people at concentrations of 2.5 parts per billion. I hope the state allows the community an opportunity to review the air-quality testing plan and that the state continuously monitors in all directions around the landfill at detection levels low enough to capture the noxious gasses and for a period of time long enough to understand the impacts."

This release is not only on the Business Wire but is also on the CNBC website. Also our little piece of hell is mentioned on the firm's blog.

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