A problematic landfill in Waynesville’s Francis Farm community will be seeing a lot of activity between now and 2019 — about $5 million worth.

Simply removing contaminated dirt from the Southwestern Community College shooting range won’t be enough to close out a lead removal project that’s been in the works since April 2014, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced this month. 

The first round of soil removal at Southwestern Community College’s lead-contaminated shooting range has substantially reduced the concentration of metal in the soil, but there’s still more work to be done before lead measurements retreat to safe levels. 

After more than two years of tests and evaluations, the end is now in sight for an effort to remove 450 tons of lead-contaminated soil from a shooting range at Southwestern Community College. The job will cost $237,000, but by the end of the summer the soil should be excavated, treated, hauled away and replaced with new, uncontaminated soil.

fr scctestingThe lead-contaminated shooting range at Southwestern Community College in Webster is in for another round of testing after the state called for further sampling to determine levels of several other potentially toxic substances in the soil.

fr shootingrangeAfter measuring lead levels of more than 200 times the state limit for safety near its shooting range, Southwestern Community College is getting ready for some potentially pricy cleanup.

fr fairclothHarold Faircloth was recently named Environmental Specialist of the Year in North Carolina after uncovering widespread lead contamination in private wells throughout Macon County.

“I had been so busy with my duties and responsibilities in my position in addition to my research and analysis of the lead in private drinking water wells that I didn’t expect anything,” he said about his award. “I feel as though I have been admitted to a special fraternity of achievers and scholars involved with environmental health.”

Underground contamination leaching from an old, closed-down landfill in Haywood County will cost millions to clean up, a burden homeowners countywide will be forced to bear through higher trash fees over the coming decade.

County commissioners got their first glimpse this month at how much each household will have to chip in over the next 10 years to pay for the cleanup.

fr sccshootingrangeResults are back from the first round of testing for lead at Southwestern Community College’s shooting range, and the conclusion is that there’s plenty of lead to go around. In the area 15 to 20 feet downslope from the range, lead levels are as much as 73 times higher than the safe amount, occurring in concentrations of 19,700 mg/kg 0 to 6 inches below the surface and 5,320 mg/kg 2 to 3 feet below the surface. 

Jackson County’s old solid waste landfill is leaking contaminants in higher concentrations than allowed into the groundwater, and satisfying state demands to safely contain the situation will cost taxpayer dollars.

Altamont Inc. representative Joel Lenk told commissioners this week that drinking water in the area has not been contaminated and is safe to use. The old landfill is less than a mile from Dillsboro. Several families living near the it rely on individually drilled wells for water, according to a report based on the company’s findings.

Altamont, headquartered in Asheville, collects water-monitoring samples at the old landfill for Jackson County.

Commissioners this week set a public hearing — as mandated by the regulating agency, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources — on possible remedies. The hearing will be held Feb. 7 at 1:30 p.m. After that, the next step will be to develop a state-approved corrective action plan, Lenk said.

The most expensive remedy, which involves treating the groundwater at the site, could cost more than $1 million. Responding to questions by Chairman Jack Debnam, Lenk said, however, the county will probably be able to pay his company an additional $10,000 per year for sampling and to satisfy the state.

Debnam, newly elected in November, initially proposed setting the hearing time for 1:45 p.m., with a regularly scheduled meeting starting at 2 p.m. Mark Jones, a veteran commissioner on the board, suggested moving the time back because, he said to Debnam, “you might draw a bigger crowd” than realized given the possible environmental implications.

Jones’ concerns that holding a public hearing during working hours might not give people an adequate opportunity to attend, however, were brushed aside. Debnam pointed out the board would be providing people the state-required 30 days notice.

 

Landfill timeline

• Groundwater sampling starts in 1998, Altamont company hired.

• Jackson County starts testing residential water-supply wells on annual basis in the late 1990s from residents who consented to sampling.

• At the same time, Jackson County installed and began monitoring landfill gas probes along the perimeter of the property.

• The last shipment of waste was taken at the landfill in June 2001.

• A monitoring well was installed into bedrock in 2004 to determine whether impacted groundwater was migrating northward toward a residential water well.

• In 2005, a full-scale operation of extracting landfill gas started. It was thought that the removal of the gas could provide benefits to groundwater quality.

• In July 2010, an additional bedrock monitoring well was installed to evaluate groundwater quality in fractured bedrock southwest of the landfill.

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