Scott County Commission addresses methane gas discharges from old landfill

Thursday, September 8, 2011

BENTON, Mo. -- The old landfill in Scott County is having a problem with methane.

Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger said during the regular Scott County Commission meeting Tuesday that county officials anticipate receiving a notice of violation from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for methane gas migration above the legal testing limits.

As DNR officials are working with the county, Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn said, county officials do not anticipate there will be any fines imposed on the county.

"They will talk to us about what we need to do if this problem continues," Ziegenhorn said.

Burger said the county maintains dialogue with DNR officials about the landfill and that the notice of violation simply "makes it known to the public that we have gas migration issues."

The county has already notified those around the landfill as required by the DNR, Burger said.

"We're not trying to hide anything," he said. "The landfill is kind of remote: It doesn't have many neighbors, but it does have some. The impact on the neighbors isn't great."

Ziegenhorn said the DNR's concern is for "human welfare." He added, "I don't think there's enough gas up there to cause anyone problems in the future."

Testing at the landfill has been done on a weekly basis since April 13, according to Commissioner Donnie Kiefer.

"The original testing was quarterly," Kiefer said. "When the methane levels became elevated, we were required to go to monthly readings. Then when the levels stayed up for an extended amount of time, we went to weekly readings."

"For the last four weeks that level has been below the legal testing limits," Burger said. "We're back to testing monthly now."

"And, if the readings stay low, we'll be back to testing quarterly," Kiefer said.

The county has contracted the company Aquaterra to conduct regular testing as required by the DNR, according to commissioners.

Sixteen monitoring wells were originally installed at the 60-acre landfill when the closure process began but testers were unable to find two of those wells.

"They test all 14 every time," Burger said of the remaining wells.

There seems to be no end in sight for the closure process.

"Since I've been here I always thought it would be closed in 2018," Burger said. "Everybody anticipates that the landfill will eventually be closed, but 'closed' for the landfill doesn't necessarily mean 'closed.'"

Burger said a landfill is like a cemetery in that there appears to be perpetual responsibilities for the landowner.

"The landfill has been closed since 1988 as far as usage," Ziegenhorn said, as that is when the gate was closed and dumping there was halted.

"We're possibly looking into selling the landfill property," Burger said, although he stressed that they are "in the very infancy of exploring this."

At this point county officials don't know if a sale of the land would even be allowed by DNR.

Ziegenhorn said it is much too early for anyone interested in the land to call county officials with offers.

Burger said that even if the county is allowed by DNR to sell the land, he expects it to be a "long, drawn-out process."

"We're exploring every option that the county may have," he said.

Ziegenhorn said at one time there was an idea to harvest the methane gas for use in generating electricity.

"But there's not enough to do that," he said. "There's just enough to cause concerns."

Ziegenhorn said the county has spent money regularly over the years maintaining the property.

"It's a beautiful place," he said. "It's worth something. It's a beautiful, beautiful site. It would make a great park."

Pertinent address:

Benton, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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