By Diane Madigan
Independent Special Writer
At the Jan. 15 regular meeting of the Van Buren Township Environmental Commission, Mike Takacs, from the Environmental Quality Company (EQ). gave a PowerPoint presentation on the repair to the damaged landfill liner at the hazardous waste facility on the North I-94 Service Drive.
In June 2012 a field technician reported an abnormal water quality measurement at an area outside the primary landfill liner, he said.
Further testing was run concluding water at the site had come in contact with waste or waste materials. The water was contained within the secondary liner of the landfill, Takacs said.
Commissioner Dave Wilson interjected, “There was never in any danger of entering ground water at the site or having any effect on the community.”
Takacs said an action plan to address the leakage was developed and in January 2013, phase one of the repairs was completed. During the summer, EQ painstakingly excavated the top of the dike to determine how water was bypassing the retention layers. The State was on site to observe a large portion of this work, Takacs said.
Looking for damage to the primary liner, technicians discovered three rips that roughly corresponded to teeth on a back-hoe.
Takacs reported the liner was damaged by a back-hoe that had previously been used to bury an electrical conduit along the top of the dike that services air monitoring stations.
During the repair of the primary liner, an excess accumulation of liquid was discovered.
They “had a bad feeling,” Takacs said.
EQ installed some instruments called piezometers that measure water levels in the landfill. They found the level of water in the landfill was above the level of the dike, which was totally unexpected.
According to Takacs, drainage pipes in the landfill are cleared by high-pressure jet cleaning on a bi-annual basis. It was determined that this cleaning process did not adequately clean all of the pipes in the system.
One suspicious pipe was identified and a blockage of scale was found in the pipe. Once the pipe was cleared, the piezometer levels fell to dry in a few weeks, Takacs said.
Changes to the drainage-cleaning procedures and leak-detection systems were made to prevent blockages of the drainage system in the future.
VBT Trustee Jeff Jahr, who sits on the Environmental Commission, said he believes that once the landfill is closed it becomes passive. He asked, in 50-75 years from now who is going continue this active maintenance?
Takacs replied: “The post-closure period includes money for yearly maintenance. Portions of the site have 30-year, post-closure maintenance. Other areas of the site require maintenance in perpetuity.
“The State requires post-closure funding in the amount of maintenance required in perpetuity.
“Eventually this thing will dry up to where it’s not producing leachate. At that point the cover systems will need to be maintained forever.”
Takacs said a final report was submitted to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in December 2013. A conference call was scheduled for Friday, Jan. 17 between MDEQ and EQ to discuss the report.
During his presentation Takacs said, “In accordance with the host community agreement, EQ is to keep the township informed of events at its landfill.”
Wayne Disposal, Inc. is a 500-acre, EQ facility located next to Willow Run Airport off the North I-94 Service Drive in VBT. It opened in 1957.
It is the only commercial hazardous-waste landfill in Michigan and one of only seven of its type in the United States.
The landfill is a disposal site for waste containing dangerous materials such as heavy metals. Most of which it receives comes from clean-up projects for industrial waste. No nuclear waste or radioactive waste is accepted.
At the end of the Jan. 15 meeting, the Independent asked if a copy of the final report was sent to VBT. Takacs said it wasn’t, but he would send a digital version to Arthur Mullen, VBT Director of Planning and Economic Development.
Mullen said he would have it in his files, but didn’t offer a copy to the newspaper, saying the Independent could request a copy from the State under the Freedom of Information Act.
When pressed, Mullen said he would keep a copy in his file to help out the local media.
By Diane Madigan