ELKINS - State agency representatives traveled to Elkins Wednesday to meet with city officials about the process of closing and capping the Elkins-Randolph County Landfill.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed House Bill 4339, designed to help fund the official closing of the landfill, in early April. The process the city of Elkins will need to follow to apply for the funds to close and cap the landfill was explained Wednesday by Paul Benedum, environmental inspector specialist with the state Department of Environmental Protection.
"The Elkins-Randolph County Landfill, with the change in the law, could be one facility that would be brought into the West Virginia Landfill Closure Assistance Program," Benedum said. "The procedure is that the city of Elkins would first have to make application to the West Virginia DEP. Part of the application process is to show that it is a financial burden on the city itself, so we will need documentation that it is a benefit for the city."
Benedum said the DEP would then review the application for acceptance, or ask for additional information to get a complete picture.
"Within the DEP, we have a procedure to go through," Benedum said. "There has to be a selection of an engineer through the expression of interest process, and that takes anywhere from six months to a year. Once an engineer is selected, they will come out to this site, survey it and assess it."
Elkins City Treasurer Lisa Daniels-Smith asked Benedum who would pay for that. Benedum said those services are usually paid for by the LCAP.
"The city of Elkins will remain the permitee," Benedum said. "You are the responsible party for the operation of this site. If state code changes and they do away with the LCAP, it is still yours."
Benedum said the LCAP does not assume ownership nor does it assume liability.
"We are primarily a financial assistance program," Benedum said. "And that is the purpose of LCAP in general."
Smith asked Benedum if the city can begin the application process on June 8.
"This goes into effect 90 days after passage," Benedum said. "We will send you the application. It is two or three pages."
Elkins City Council member Bob Woolwine asked who selects the engineering firm for the project.
"We select the engineering firm," Benedum said. "We get a letter of agreement between the state and the city allowing us the right and the authority to come on site and do what is necessary for our program. I will be the primary contact person and I am the project manager for this area."
Benedum said once an engineer is selected, that person will come to the landfill and do an assessment.
"Then they will come up with some drawings and a plan," he said. "The engineer will submit it to us for review. We will work with the city of Elkins through the whole process. It is a slow, timely process."
Benedum said once the plan is approved, the city will submit the plan to the Solid Waste Program of the DEP in Charleston for a permit modification to do the work.
"They will review the plans and corrections may have to be made," Benedum said. "Once the plan is approved and a plan modification is issued, then the LCAP program goes through the purchasing process of selecting a contractor to complete the work."
The permitting process can be six months to a year, Benedum said, and once the contractor is selected, he will begin the dirt work. Benedum said site work at the landfill should take about one year
"Some of the improvements that will help are roads to the wells and the well-monitoring process itself," he said. "When we actually get in here, leachate management typically is cut to one-third. So the water quality issues are reduced."
Benedum said when the time comes, officials will see if a suitable sanitary sewer exists within a reasonable distance.
"Junior did an extension but I don't know how far they went," Benedum said. "We will have to see if the plant is capable of handling that volume. Sometimes the plant itself comes up to a volume limit."
Benedum said the LCAP will also assist with the 30-year monitoring of the landfill.
"We have a contract with a well-sampling service to keep care of all the LCAP landfills," Benedum said. "Elkins would be added to that list."
Smith asked Benedum what the city of Elkins should be doing in the interim.
"We have been putting dirt in," Smith said. "Is that what we should continue to do?"
"Cover is a good thing," Benedum said. "Look at your permit to see what you should be putting in. It's not uncommon that we will do probes, and if there is more cover than needed, we can pull some off. We like a dome shape for the water to shed off."
Benedum said years ago landfills were typically run as a service to the public.
"Then when the new standards kicked in, you needed to have a mindset that this is a business," Benedum said. "Businesses don't thrive without income. It's a business and it needs to be run that way."
Benedum said it may take about three years before the actual closing process begins. The closing process itself will take about a year, he said.
Elkins Mayor Van Broughton said he was excited with the progress the city is making.
"This closure and capping process and the water system improvement project shows real progress for the residents of Elkins," Broughton said. "This is definitely a win-win for the city and everyone who lives here."
Broughton said it was good to see everything starting to take shape.
"All the hard work is beginning to pay off," Broughton said. "It is good to know what we need to do. It is great to see some daylight on the project. Lisa has been great. She will submit our application on the first possible day she can. We will dot our i's and cross our t's and make sure we have the correct information."
Broughton said he thanks the DEP for their input and working with the city.
"I appreciate their communication and hard work," Broughton said. "We will get this process moving."