SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) - A unilateral order has been issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) requiring South Hadley Landfill, LLC assess a crack that has appeared in the landfill's berm.
The order comes two months after the town announced plans to expand the 40-acre landfill by another 16 acres. The agency is calling the finding "a threat," as there is a possibility run-off solutions could leach beyond the landfill and into a nearby water source; and concerned residents of the town agree. Suzanne Cordes has been living in South Hadley for 32 years and will be presenting at Tuesday night's select board meeting.
Cordes says the landfill is not only littering the Bynan Conservation Area , a 160-acre wetland that abuts the landfill, but it is also endangering the health of those who live in South Hadley.
"We have a dinosaur in our backyard. And it is getting bigger and bigger, and the bigger it gets, the bigger our liability gets. There are a lot of issues related to that. I believe people in South Hadley, I know they are not aware of it, I think people on the boards in South Hadley are not aware of it. And my job is to bring the message home," said Cordes who has prepared a one-hour presentation with hopes it could lead to the landfill being shut down.
The landfill is operated by Insterstate Waste Services, or South Hadley, LLC. It opened in late 2003 and currently takes in nearly 600 tons of trash, daily, from six states. Landfill operators say the lateral expansion is needed because the landfill currently stands 398 feet above mean sea level; seven feet below its 405-foot vertical capacity.
South Hadley Department of Public Works Director Jim Reidy told 22News operators have filled the 20-foot crack with grout. And although they are concerned about the berm being compromised, they are not deeming the crack as a threat or catastrophic.
Per DEP orders, the landfill operator has hired an independent consultant, Specialty Civil Designs, which will survey the landfill and report back to the state by May 19. Reidy says that report will determine if they continue with their proposal to expand the landfill.
But residents like Toscia Bara are convinced the DEP's report further proves the landfill needs to be shut down. Bara grew up living near the landfill says the daily operations are too much to handle; especially for her 5-year-old son.
"When they are scaring off the wildlife and the birds in the area [it] sounds like loud shotgun noises. Seems like he's afraid somebody is hunting in the woods. Every time he hears them, he jumps," said Bara who has lived near the landfill since 1974.
Reidy will meet with residents and the town's select board on Tuesday night at 7pm to discuss the DEP's findings.
To tracks reports reviewing the South Hadley Landfill, visit Shaw Environmental, Inc. September, 2010 report.