Landfill gets high marks

ATLANTA – In 2010 Golder & Associates took over as the primary engineer and consultant firm for the Montmorency-Oscoda-Solid Waste Management Authority. It has played a key role in implementing more cost-effective ways to test the water and air at the landfill, as well as how to treat the leachate.

On Friday Viki Garon updated the landfill board on how the landfill and its operations have improved the site, and also shed some light on what can be expected moving forward.

Garon told the commissioners that some simple design changes to how the trash will be distributed at the landfill and a new impactor has slowed the amount of airspace being utilized. She said the landfill’s compaction rate has allowed the landfill to put off constructing another cell for about five years. She said Golder also has been handling the ground water and air quality testing and handling the associated paperwork for submittal to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for review.

Garon said changes in the way they treat leachate has improved and as a result less hauling is needed. She said the use of aerators, fountains, recycling the leachate through the cells and the increased evaporation of it from the two lagoons have helped to reduce hauling and saved the landfill money. Garon said leachate treatment is the largest expense for all landfills and the way the administrators and staff have handled it over the last several years has been important to the progress at the landfill.

“The biggest change at the landfill since Golder began working with it is the operations,” Garon said. “If I have to break everything down to one element it is that operations have changed and with that the leachate volumes have decreased. The working face has gotten smaller and the compaction efforts have gone up and it is all due to the operations. They are cohesive and when things are cohesive the numbers get to where they are supposed to be.”

In the future there may be some significant work that may need to be done to cells that already are closed and capped. Garon said in order to take advantage of all the airspace available to the landfill, some of those cells may need to be reopened.

“On cells one through four there is going to have to be some work to get them back to where they used to be. There has been subsiding in there and I think the plastic cap on six will need to be replaced in the next five years,” Garon said. “The heartache is there is nothing wrong with it, but if you want to regain some of the airspace buy going vertically up, you will have to remove it. That or you will have to build a new cell.”

Garon said in order to help the landfill save money on groundwater testing, Golder is going to train employees at the landfill how to collect samples. Once collected, Golder will do the diagnostic work and the filing with the state.”

In other business:

  • the board approved spending $60 to purchase 100 hybrid poplar trees that will be planted in one of the open cells. The trees are supposed to consume the leachate and help reduce the leachate numbers further. Plans were in place to have a special groundwater discharge system constructed that also included the use of the trees, but instead of spending thousands of dollars, the commissioners decided to plant the trees and see the impact the leachate would have on them.
  • Administrator Sandy Cunningham said the new Caterpillar bulldozer was delivered to the landfill.
  • Alpena County Commissioner Lyle VanWormer said Recovered Energy Resources’ plan to build a gasification plant on landfill property is continuing to move in the right direction. He said the permit process is ongoing and construction of the plant could begin in June or July.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5689.