Landfill plan: Give $3 million to Dumfries, close in 20 years

The Potomac Landfill wants to make a deal.

The 101-acre construction and debris landfill in Dumfries will soon be the largest landfill of its kind after the upcoming closure of a similar landfill in Lorton.

The growing pile of debris now stands at 220 feet. An order from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality states the landfill is too tall, and that it needs to be reduced to be a maximum of 195 feet tall.

Potomac Landfill President Philip C. Peet proposed a new deal with the Town of Dumfries that would allow him to continue piling up debris on the site, up to 250 feet tall over the next 20 years, when the landfill is expected to close.
In exchange for the increased height, Potomac Landfill will offer to pay Dumfries up to $3 million over 20 years. It will be the only construction and debris landfill in Virginia to pay a host fee.

The fees, about $2 per metric ton when the program is fully implemented in 2019, is expected to net $150,000 per year for the town. It would be paid based off the materials that end up in the landfill. Potomac Landfill sifts through and separates as much wood, concrete, dirt, metals, and cardboard from truckloads hauled into the landfill. It sells the materials to firms that will recycle it.

Peet said the landfill once had a conveyor belt and a team of people that sifted through the materials by hand. The job is now done with three front-end loaders and a handful of people.

A series of public meetings about the landfill’s proposal were held on July 27 and Aug. 4. This proposal differs from a 2012 plan that fell flat when landfill officials offered to close the landfill 15 years early and use only 39 of its total 58 acres of land, in exchange for being allowed to pile debris as tall as 310 feet.

“At that point, it just becomes too tall, and all you have is a peak, and you can’t do much with the land after that,” said Peet.
Reclaiming the land for future uses was as much a topic of discussion as how much the town stands to benefit from the deal financially. When the landfill closes, the land at the entrance to the landfill could be developed into retail shops, or a pay-to-play sports and recreation center, said Peet.

Baseball diamonds, tennis courts, or soccer fields could be built in a park on top of the mound. The landfill must be monitored for 10 years after it closes, but that would not delay construction of the park, Peet said.

Peet also said new muti-family homes, most likely apartments, could then be built on land now owned by the landfill, along Main and Duke streets in Dumfries.

Peet said he hoped the Town Council would approve his plan this fall. If it does, Potomac Landfill will begin paying Dumfries 50 cents per metric ton of debris buried at the landfill. Once plans are finalized with the DEQ, the town will get $1.50 per metric ton, and will be paid $2 per ton once all practices in place by 2019, said Peet.

Potomac Landfill also agrees remove a stipulation from a 1987 court order that would allow them to build a used tire recycling facility the company maintains it is allowed to build. Town Councilman Charles Brewer disagreed, and said the ability for the landfill to construct a used tire processing center was taken off the books many years ago.

If the plan is a approved, a new berm will be constructed to hold the additional debris to be piled into the landfill. The berm would change the elevation, which would be easily noticed by drivers on Interstate 95 and Route 234.

Residents at the meeting had few reservations about the landfill’s proposed plan. They did raise concerns sulfur odors that emanate from the landfill after heavy rains, dust, and truck noise.

Peet said he’s hired a street cleaning service to clean the entrance and exit of the landfill to reduce dust, and said only 2o odor complaints were investigated between December 2013 and June 2015. In 2011, Virginia officials investigated the landfill due to sulfur odors.

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