Council hires firm to deal with methane gas

The city is working on how the clean-up and the study will effect landfill and sanitation rates.

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WALLA WALLA -- City Council approved a $287,000 contract to hire an environmental firm to determine the best way to prevent methane gas in Sudbury Landfill from contaminating local groundwater.

Council unanimously voted Wednesday night to hire the firm of Schwyn Environmental Services, LLC to help resolve a groundwater contamination issue that was first detected a decade ago.

In 2001, trace amounts of volatile organic compounds that derived from methane gas were detected in one of the dozen test wells on the landfill site.

"It (the test results for that well) exceeds groundwater standard. It is a relatively low amount. It actually passes the drinking water standards, but it doesn't pass the ground water standards," Public Works engineer Frank Nicholson said.

He said the city regularly tests private wells adjacent to the landfill, and to date there have been no traces of landfill contamination.

But the Department of Ecology felt the problem was serious enough it sent the city a notice of Potentially Liable Person in May.

"It took them awhile to work up the chain of concern. And that basically says there is a problem and you are potentially liable and what they do is they are giving a notice that you have got to do something," Nicholson said.

Over the last 10 years, the city has hired an environmental attorney to work out the volatile organic compounds issue with Department of Ecology.

It is estimated the eventual clean-up project could be upwards of $3 million.

The city is currently working on how the clean-up and the study will effect landfill and sanitation rates.

City officials said there is the possibility the Department of Ecology could reimburse up to 75 percent of the $3 million project.

According to Department of Ecology spokesperson Jani Gilbert, the Department of Ecology does not normally pay for such costs, and she could not readily answer if the city would qualify for a reimbursement.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, volatile organic compounds are emitted by numerous household and business products, including paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and numerous common chemical solutions.

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