Reclamation Project

Berm grading plan elevations overlayed on aerial image

About the Project

Following promulgation of waste management regulations in April 1971, Loudoun County applied for and received Permit Number 1 in May of that year. This was the first permitted landfill in the Commonwealth. Loudoun County began operating the landfill as a trench landfill which was the standard method of waste disposal at that time. Waste was buried within soil trenches without engineering design, liner system or wastewater (leachate) collection. This was also the norm and accepted practice at that time. This first cell was named the "Old Fill." The Old Fill grew to approximately 1.3 million cubic yards of material covering nearly 30 acres until 1983. Following increased regulation, the future cells after 1983 included varying types of engineered liners and leachate collection systems. Groundwater monitoring wells were installed in the late 1980s. Groundwater contamination, at low levels, was detected in the area of the Old Fill. Given the Old Fill is unlined and the contamination is detected in groundwater flowing under it, the Old Fill is the accepted source of said contamination.

Since 1983, the county altered the topography of the Old Fill by adding large quantities of compacted cover soil to improve stormwater run-off and reduce the amount of water infiltrating into the ground over the unlined waste. In addition, the county added landfill gas extraction wells and leachate pumping wells in 1997 to improve the environmental condition of the Old Fill as well as the newer cells. The county then monitored the groundwater quarterly, expecting improvement and a reduction in the detections by "natural attenuation," which is a common method of groundwater remediation approved by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). While the detections declined soon after implementing the monitored natural attenuation, they ceased to decline in recent years and remain above the regulatory threshold for several contaminants. Given the contamination isn’t diminishing and the regulatory trend is likely to continue becoming more stringent, the Old Fill poses a significant remediation liability for the county in the future.

The county decided the best approach would be to voluntarily remove the pollution source entirely, placing it in a modern, contained cell with engineered design including a stormwater management system, a liner system, and leachate and landfill gas collection systems.

Project Description

This project is the voluntary remediation and reclamation of the existing unlined portion of the county landfill. This environmental reclamation project consists of first removing cover soil, then "mining" a mixture of soil and decayed solid waste, then screening materials such as large metals, tires, soil and fines to be recycled and re-used, then finally, relocating the waste to a lined cell on-site. The reclaimed site will be lined per current regulatory standards into two distinct waste disposal cells, R1 and R2. Lining accomplishes two objectives: preventing a connection between future waste and the groundwater below; and creating usable landfill space for new disposal operations. The project also increases the site buffering of the Old Fill area from 50-feet to over 300-feet by constructing a heavily vegetated berm between the excavated site and the northern property line.

Permitting

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) permitted the reclamation project on March 20, 2015. The permitting process was both lengthy and detailed. It included three public notifications and public comment periods and a three-month pilot study. The permitting process began informally with discussions between the county and DEQ in late 2010 and officially in February of 2014 with a Notice of Intent letter followed by a Part "B" application for a Major Permit Modification to the existing Permit Number 1.

Funding

The county landfill reclamation project was funded in FY 2013. The project is entirely debt financed; with the debt service funded utilizing landfill revenues. No local tax funding for the project is required.

Benefits

Anticipated benefits of this project are to:

  1. Remove the source of groundwater contamination
  2. Remediate current groundwater contamination
  3. Increase buffer between waste disposal and areas nearby properties north of the Old Fill
  4. Gain cost effective landfill capacity without expanding the disposal footprint or constructing new infrastructure

Schedule

  • 2014 Permitting and Design
  • 2015 Contractor Selection / Award
  • 2015 to 2017 Excavation of Southern Portion of Old Fill (future Cell R1) 
  • 2017 Liner Installation of R1
  • 2018 to 2019 Begin Waste Disposal Operations in Cell R1 
  • 2018 to 2020 Excavation of Northern Portion of Old Fill (future Cell R2) 
  • 2019 Construction of Vegetative North Berm
  • 2021 to 2022 Liner Installation of R2

Update

The Reclamation Contractor, Atlantic Construction and Materials, Inc. (ACM) earned the annual incentive bonus for the 2019 Reclamation Season and all but one of monthly incentive bonuses (March 2019) allowed under the contract.  Approximately 253,000 cubic yards (CY) of Old Fill material was excavated during 2019, slightly exceeding the reclamation contract’s Target Annual Reclamation Excavation Volume (TAREV) of 250,000 cubic yards. 

During the 2019 reclamation season, ACM unexpectedly found additional landfill material in the northern portion of the Old Fill area nearer to the northern property line and at greater depths that originally anticipated in the 2014 design.  The 2014 design was based on boring logs from gas and groundwater wells and on aerial topography from the early 1980s.  Approximately 87,000 CY of unexpected landfill materials were found in the northern portion of the Old Fill area that were not anticipated in the 2014 design.  As a result of this new information and anticipating deeper Old Fill materials in the remaining Cell R2 reclamation area, we believe it is reasonable to raise the project’s target excavation quantity by 100,000 CY from 1,250,000 CY to 1,350,000 CY.

Total excavation to date, from the start of the reclamation project is approximately 1,044,254 CY or approximately 83% of the original project excavation target of 1,250,000 CY.  If we consider the new, higher project excavation target of 1,350,000 CY, total excavation to date represents approximately 77% of the new target.  The remaining anticipated reclamation excavation amount is roughly estimated at 306,000CY.  However, this is only a rough estimate based on limited available information and there is no way to determine the exact volume of remaining Old Fill material to be excavated.  The project’s goal is to remove the entirety of the remaining volume of Old Fill material from within and below the bottom of proposed Cell R2.

In addition to the reclamation excavation activities, ACM excavated borrow material from other parts of the LCSWMF and used it to construct the Northern Screening Berm.  Approximately 242,000 CY of fill was placed during 2019 to achieve the final outer (northern) slopes of the berm. Also, approximately, 1,000 hardwood bare root trees and evergreen screening trees were planted on the outer slopes of the berm to provide a significant aesthetic barrier and buffer between the landfill and neighboring properties.

Reclamation project timelines

Progress Update

2019 Reclamation Project Progress
2019 Reclamation Remaining quantities