Spying landfill leaks
Brookhaven Town upgrades technology at landfill to prevent problems

Long Island Advance
August 13, 2009


A new requirement for cell construction approval above and beyond what the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation calls for, electronic leak detection monitoring prior to any placement of waste in the new cell and any future cells, has been established in Brookhaven Town’s landfill. “The extra step can detect a hole the diameter of a finishing nail,” said Brookhaven’s Waste Commissioner Ed Hubbard of the technology in an e-mail. “The new cell that will go online this week is 100 percent free of any punctures or tears.”

“It’s already been done, about two weeks ago,” explained Brookhaven Town Majority Leader Timothy P. Mazzei, the town’s Waste Management liaison. The probe was used on Cell 6. “We hired a firm from Texas and they determined a couple of tears, all small, but one was about six inches which was immediately repaired. Now as a result of the probe we now know the liner has no tears. We are tear free. As a result of seeing this work we are now going to use it in the future prior to construction of the new cell and placement of debris.”

Brookhaven Town is the first to use the electronic leak detection monitoring in their landfill on Long Island, Mazzei said. “That’s our information,” he confirmed. Leak Location Services Inc., the company used, is located in San Antonio. According to their Web site, they specialize in geomembrane liner leak detection for landfills and surface impoundments. The technology includes the probe, wires, and a generator. What the probe detects is viewed via a monitoring device. It cost $10,000 for the monitoring. “But we’ve charged back the money to the company that installed the cell liner,” Mazzei said of Cell 6. “So it’s not going to cost us any money.” In addition, approval of a landfill groundwater model for the town of Brookhaven Landfill that will monitor the area down gradient of the landfill including the current Beaver Dam Creek plume passed via a Town Board resolution last week.

“This will fulfill a longtime wish of mine to have a comprehensive groundwater model done of the area,” said Hubbard. “It will help to monitor the current plume and groundwater conditions and make sure that if anything like this happens in the future we catch it in plenty of time to do something about it.”

“It came from the Beaver Dam Creekwater quality group,” said Councilwoman Connie Kepert (4th District) regarding the probe and modeling initiatives. “We have two primary focuses—to protect the people south of the landfill by hooking them up to public water and to determine the environmental damage of the current plume, and obviously, we don’t want it happening again,” she said. “We’ve hired Dvirka and Bartilucci and they have been sinking probes and using some of the old wells for samples,” Kepert explained of the model. “We are taking all the data we have and developing the comprehensive groundwater model to show how it flows south of the landfill. That will help us catch any problem very quickly.” Kepert gave kudos to Hubbard for pursuing the new technology as well. “It showed several pinholes as well as a significant tear,” she said of the electronic probe. “The liner is covered with a couple of feet of sand. Then they dig through and put in an electronic probe and it finds leaks. It really prevented a future problem.” ■