About the Project
Following promulgation of waste management regulations in April 1971, Loudoun County applied for and received Permit Number 1 in May of that year. This was the first permitted landfill in the Commonwealth. Loudoun County began operating the landfill as a trench landfill which was the standard method of waste disposal at that time. Waste was buried within soil trenches without engineering design, liner system or wastewater (leachate) collection. This was also the norm and accepted practice at that time. This first cell was named the "Old Fill." The Old Fill grew to approximately 1.3 million cubic yards of material covering nearly 30 acres until 1983. Following increased regulation, the future cells after 1983 included varying types of engineered liners and leachate collection systems. Groundwater monitoring wells were installed in the late 1980s. Groundwater contamination, at low levels, was detected in the area of the Old Fill. Given the Old Fill is unlined and the contamination is detected in groundwater flowing under it, the Old Fill is the accepted source of said contamination.
Since 1983, the county altered the topography of the Old Fill by adding large quantities of compacted cover soil to improve stormwater run-off and reduce the amount of water infiltrating into the ground over the unlined waste. In addition, the county added landfill gas extraction wells and leachate pumping wells in 1997 to improve the environmental condition of the Old Fill as well as the newer cells. The county then monitored the groundwater quarterly, expecting improvement and a reduction in the detections by "natural attenuation," which is a common method of groundwater remediation approved by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). While the detections declined soon after implementing the monitored natural attenuation, they ceased to decline in recent years and remain above the regulatory threshold for several contaminants. Given the contamination isn't diminishing and the regulatory trend is likely to continue becoming more stringent, the Old Fill poses a significant remediation liability for the county in the future.
The county decided the best approach would be to voluntarily remove the pollution source entirely, placing it in a modern, contained cell with engineered design including a stormwater management system, a liner system, and leachate and landfill gas collection systems.
This project is the voluntary remediation and reclamation of the existing unlined portion of the county landfill. This environmental reclamation project consists of first removing cover soil, then "mining" a mixture of soil and decayed solid waste, then screening materials such as large metals, tires, soil and fines to be recycled and re-used, then finally, relocating the waste to a lined cell on-site. The reclaimed site will be lined per current regulatory standards into two distinct waste disposal cells, R1 and R2. Lining accomplishes two objectives: preventing a connection between future waste and the groundwater below; and creating usable landfill space for new disposal operations. The project also increases the site buffering of the Old Fill area from 50-feet to over 300-feet by constructing a heavily vegetated berm between the excavated site and the northern property line.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permitted the reclamation project on March 20, 2015. The permitting process was both lengthy and detailed. It included three public notifications and public comment periods and a three-month pilot study. The permitting process began informally with discussions between the county and DEQ in late 2010 and officially in February of 2014 with a Notice of Intent letter followed by a Part "B" application for a Major Permit Modification to the existing Permit Number 1.
The county landfill reclamation project was funded in FY 2013. The project is entirely debt financed; with the debt service funded utilizing landfill revenues. No local tax funding for the project is required.
Anticipated benefits of this project are to:
- Remove the source of groundwater contamination
- Remediate current groundwater contamination
- Increase buffer between waste disposal and areas nearby properties north of the Old Fill
- Gain cost effective landfill capacity without expanding the disposal footprint or constructing new infrastructure
- 2014 Permitting and Design
- 2015 Contractor Selection / Award
- 2015 to 2017 Excavation of Southern Portion of Old Fill (future Cell R1)
- 2017 Liner Installation of R1
- 2018 to 2019 Begin Waste Disposal Operations in Cell R1
- 2018 to 2020 Excavation of Northern Portion of Old Fill (future Cell R2)
- 2019 Construction of Vegetative North Berm
- 2021 to 2022 Liner Installation of R2
The first milestone, the excavation of future Cell R1, the first cell to be relined, is 100% complete, ahead of its target completion date of early 2017. Construction of the liner system and other complimentary environmental protections was completed in late 2017. DEQ issued a Certificate to Operate Cell R1, which allows the county to place waste in the cell, on May 3, 2018.
Since Mid-April 2018, the contractor has continued reclamation activities in two separate areas of the Old Fill. On the north end of the Old Fill, the contractor has been excavating and relocating landfill material directly to lined areas; Phase III was used for disposal from April to Mid-August before disposal operations moved to Cell 1A. On the south end of the remainder of the Old Fill (Cell R2 area), the contractor is screening landfill material to recover fines and soil for use in landfill daily cover operations. Screened waste is then transported to lined areas for disposal. Additionally, during this quarter the contractor began construction of the northern screening berm. Approximately 50% of the northern screening berm has been completed to date.