COVINGTON - In response to concerns of residents along Lower River Road, the county will hold a second public meeting to discuss the proposed expansion of the Newton County Landfill.
About a dozen residents living near the landfill turned out at the Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday night. Several spoke out during the citizens' comments portion of the meeting.
The residents said they are concerned about reports of methane gas migration from an old unlined cell in the landfill and the county's application to the Environmental Protection Division for a landfill expansion.
Their comments prompted the county to announce a second public meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. April 14 in the Board of Commissioners meeting room in the Newton County Historic Courthouse at 1124 Clark St.
Landfill consultants with Richardson Smith Gardner and Associates Inc. will be on hand to present information and answer questions.
A public meeting was previously held March 20.
"Unfortunately, that meeting was poorly attended, and there is a considerable amount of misinformation circulating concerning the landfill and proposed expansion," Board of Commissioners Chairman Aaron Varner said in a press release issued earlier this week.
Robert Krasko, a hydrogeologist with Geological, Environmental and Management Services Inc., hired by the county to do environmental monitoring at the landfill, recently told the Citizen that methane gas monitoring is being stepped up after the discovery that the previous monitoring system was in disrepair.
While gas has been detected at the fence line that borders the landfill property, none has been detected across the street, Krasko said.
There is no evidence that any residential properties in the area have been contaminated, he said.
"The environmental impacts are located to the south of the Animal Control Shelter owned by the county. There are no residences there," he said.
As a precautionary measure, however, the six monitoring points required by law will be increased to 36, he said.
If the county's application to the EPD is approved, waste in the unlined landfill cell will be excavated and moved to a lined cell as part of the landfill expansion.
Krasko said the county will not actually be enlarging the property but will expand internally by filling dead space.
Krasko described the expansion as similar to lining up three isoceles triangles and then filing in dead air space with upside down triangles.
This method, which will extend landfill capacity by 20 years, is a fairly new trend in the industry and is more cost-effective than building a new landfill, he said.
But residents say the existing landfill is enough of a nuisance with its unpleasant odor, and they don't want an expansion. They also said they aren't convinced that methane gas has not migrated to their properties.
One resident said all the homes in that area have wells and there is concern about water contamination. The county should provide water service to residents and take measures to reduce heavy truck traffic on Lower River Road, he said.
Varner assured the residents that based on information from consultants, there is no imminent danger to their health.
"I want to assure you that the Board of Commissioners is doing its best to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of all its citizens, and I hope you will attend the public information meeting to get accurate information concerning the landfill and the proposed expansion," he said.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at email@example.com.