AREA Group is dedicated to preserving
the Old Amherst Landfill as an
open, green and environmentally safe space.
old landfill's cap is deteriorating and leaking contaminants into the
surrounding wetlands. The landfill was
capped: the 1985-1987 closure of the landfill violated the
of the 1985 DEP Closure Permit. Recent test data from 2007 and 2010 DEP reports show that the cap further
deteriorated and is currently leaking as
much as 940
gallons/acre/day of leachate that
enters the groundwater. The contamination
has already spread
to conservation wetlands
as far as half a mile away from it, which are located in the primary aquifer recharge area.
Area Group engaged Roux
Associates to perform an independent environmental evaluation
of the Old Landfill and its suitability for hosting a large solar
array. The evaluation not only confirmed our concerns, but also found
that site closure was even more sub-standard (6 inches of clay) than
the already reduced depth of 8 inches. This is just 50% of the
clay depth required by the 1985 standards, and 33% of the
18" clay depth required today. The research has found that the site is
letting 150 times more water in than was allowed by the original DEP
design, and 1500 times more than it is allowed by today's landfill
capping standards. The study concludes that:
NEW: Analysis of the DEP Annual Site Monitoring Data uncovers an even more disturbing picture: When the Town rejected the conclusions of the report (click here to read the Town's response) without backing them with factual data, Roux Associates analyzed the Town's response and rebutted all of the Town's assertions based on factual scientific data.
In addition, Roux Associates analyzed sampling data from the DEP annual site monitoring reports. The results presented an even more disturbing picture of the current condition of the landfill site and its cap, confirming our worries:
An original project proposed by the Blue Wave Capital, LLC planed
covering 30+ acres of the site
with an industrial solar installation with 20,000 panels, with 4.75 MW
peak power, but a meager 0.6 MW
average output throughout the day. Installing a huge solar array
on a deteriorated landfill cap with settlement problems presents enormous
environmental risks. The original project was cancelled, and a
new project by Sun Edison is now in the planning stages. The new
project targets both the new and the old landfills, with 2.8 MW being
planned for the old landfill installation.
group questions the
wisdom of a such installation compared with alternative solutions that
install solar panels on the roofs of
municipal and school buildings that would directly benefit the town without
endangering the environment.
Roof installations would allow the town to use generated
electricity right at the source, instead of selling it to the grid and
then repurchasing it with the delivery surcharge added.
installed on top of it, and the contamination by the leaking leachate
will continue for
the next 30 years, causing a wide range of environmental problems.
project is in violation
of the State Grant the town used for capping the landfill. The
State Grant Agreement required
use and record
a Deed Restriction for
recreational use of the site. The State Grant also required the Town to
cap the site according to the specifications of the DEP Closure Permit,
which were never satisfied. Click here on
information about the actions taken by the group.
Actions: AREA retained a local attorney who is an expert on zoning and land-use, and set up a Trust Fund for all contributions to the group's mission. Click here for information about the recent actions.
Click here for more information on the current condition of the old landfill site.
first block of
pictures was taken just recently, in March of 2016. Compare them with
the rest of the pictures below that were taken before the recent
According to the Roux Associate Summary Report (page 3), "regrading does not modify the contour of the cap or further increase the cap thickness. Instead, water that was once visible surface water will still be present, but will exist below the surface of the regraded areas. This water is still available to infiltrate the thin, permeable cap."
|The pictures shown
below were taken before the regrading.
Settlement and Water Ponding Problems in the middle area
A big portion of this water will seep into the landfill, get contaminated and enter ground water.
According to the 2007 DEP report, the "impermeable" clay cap is leaking 150 times more than allowed by the original Closure Permit. 940 gallons/acre/day of leachate are produced by precipitation infiltrating through the existing landfill cap. Click here for more information.
the circular access road
The planned regrading does not address the condition of the clay cap: it simply adds more soil on top. The cap already has 24 inches of soil on top of it, and adding more will not restore impermeability of the clay layer. Alternative remediation methods must be explored.
Unlike the Pittsfield Brownfield, a former leveled industrial ground with compacted soil, the Amherst landfill ground is soft and sagging, a bad fit for supporting a huge solar array with heavy inverters, transformers and concrete ballast beams to support each of the 20,000+ panels.
the entrance (Northern area)
It will be impossible to monitor and fix developing problems as they occur if the landfill is covered with thousands of solar panels. The current leakage problem must be addressed before contemplating any additional load on top of the already deteriorating cap.
The landfill is a giant sponge soaked with toxic chemicals. Because it is unlined, these contaminants are slowly leaching out of the landfill into the ground water. The combined weight of thousands of tons of industrial equipment will push the cap down, squeezing the sponge. This will accelerate the leaching process, threatening the Town's drinking water supply.
|Problems in the
There is no data on the long-term effect of placing such a big load on the landfill cap. When the cap cracks, it will unleash an environmental disaster that will negate any projected financial and environmental benefits of the project.
from equipment used to drill monitoring wells
The landfill leachate enters groundwaters and contaminates surrounding environment. The wetlands of the Hop Brook Drive (located just 100 yards away from the Lawrence Swamp Water Protection Area for the Town's drinking water wells) and Gull Pond (located off the Old Farm Road) already have concentrations of contaminants exceeding WQC and MassDEP groundwater standards and SSC sediment guidelines. Urgent actions are required to prevent further contamination.