Gravity will drain landfill, no matter what

By Peter H. Milliken


Excavators, bulldozers and 40-ton dump trucks have begun a massive three-year undertaking that will move 1.5 million cubic yards of earth at Republic Services’ Carbon-Limestone Landfill.

The project will create a new gravity-driven passive drainage system that will keep rainwater and ground water away from the landfill’s garbage to avoid water contamination.

“It’s passive because there’s no active pumping,” said Mike Heher, manager of the landfill, 8100 S. State Line Road. “It will flow naturally.”

The new system will use a moat around the landfill to convey the water to two 5-acre artificial sedimentation lakes, where sediment will fall to the lake bottoms before the water is discharged to a Mahoning River tributary. The lakes will be dredged as necessary, Heher said.

The new multimillion-dollar system also will feature wetlands to filter the water and provide wildlife habitat.

Installation of the passive drainage system within three years is a requirement the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency imposed as a condition of its granting an expansion permit last month to double the landfill’s capacity.

The expansion will add about 50 years to the landfill’s active life, enabling it to accept waste for 80 more years. Without the expansion, the landfill would remain active for 30 more years at the present rate of use.

The gravity-driven system, which requires no pumps, is designed to guarantee that the land-fill’s drainage will continue to function, whether or not the landfill is operating and being maintained, Heher said.

An electrically-operated active pumping system, with diesel-fueled backup generators, is being used now to continuously pump ground water from former limestone-quarry ponds to keep it away from the garbage. The ground water must be kept at least 15 feet below the garbage, Heher said.

That system pumps as many as 500,000 to 1 million gallons of water a day, Heher said. “It goes into different streams around here and ultimately works its way down to the Mahoning River,” he added.

The active system will remain in use until the gravity-operated system is completed and operational, and the landfill will remain fully open for waste acceptance while the new drainage system is under construction, Heher said.

The OEPA requires that any trees to be cut down for this project must be taken down before April 15, in advance of the breeding season for the Indiana bat, a protected species.

Wood chips from the trees being cut down are being turned into particle board or used as fuel for a district steam-heating plant in Akron, said Jim Sanders, owner of SDS Earth Moving Inc. of Diamond, contractor of the project.

“Everything’s being recycled that is recyclable,” Sanders said. Any stone that is removed will be crushed and used in road construction, he said.

The earth being removed from areas of excavation is being trucked to a nearby location to build a decorative mound that will provide a windscreen for the landfill’s truck-weighing scale house, Sanders said.

The project will employ up to 25 to 30 workers, all members of Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown, Sanders added.

SDS devotes itself exclusively to landfill construction. Besides building Carbon-Limestone’s new drainage system, the company builds cells and caps for the waste-accepting areas of landfills.

The northern portion of the earth-moving project at Carbon-Limestone will include construction of a sledding hill and cross-country running area for the community, Heher said.

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