Test drilling planned at old Pownal landfill site

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POWNAL — Dates have been set for test-drilling work at an improperly capped municipal landfill site.

The drilling of test wells on Nov. 4-6 will start what is expected to be an extensive process of sampling, testing and possibly remediation at the informally named West Landfill on Maple Grove Road, Town Administrator Michael Walker confirmed when reached Friday.

The town's engineering firm for the project, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., will do the drilling at the former landfill site just west of the Pownal transfer station.

"That's the initial drilling," Walker said. He believes there are four or five wells planned for the leading edge of the former landfill, another test well in the center, and a few more on the periphery.

The wells will allow taking of material samples, including soil and water.

"They're going to drill the wells, and at the conclusion of drilling, they will sample," Walker said.

Not having done this before, he said, he doesn't know the time frame between drilling and sampling. But he's read the processes for testing.

"And they're not quick," he said "They're methodical."

The engineering company has not presented a timeline for the work, as there are many variables involved, Walker said.

"And there's methods to how they test," he said. "They have to test properly."

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A walk-through at the former landfill site was conducted in the summer of 2018 to check for potential issues that might merit evaluation, Walker has said. Possible problems emerged after Green Lantern Solar expressed interest in installing an array at the site.

"When we walked the property, it was blatantly obvious that it was not covered properly," Walker has said.

Given the fact that the landfill was not lined, and there were drums, wires and canisters visible, it was "fairly evident that there was a potential issue," said Kurt Muller, senior environmental engineer with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., at a Select Board meeting in September.

There are also reports of burning industrial trash at the site, he said.

"We've got a site that accepted a lot of industrial waste of what unknown origin," he said. Because of that, samples taken will need to be analyzed for a multitude of possible contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and others.

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The investigation will include soil samples, probably taken from a depth of 8 to 10 feet, Muller said.

The town was granted a $239,801 loan amendment from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to cover the actual phase two study of the site.

"They're going to be doing some analysis of soil, groundwater and surface water in the area as part of their evaluation of the extent of contamination," said Tom Brown, CWSRF project developer, in a previous conversation with the Banner. "They will use that to develop the next step."

Money has also been earmarked in this amendment for "another round of testing, should it need to be done," Brown said.

The $239,801 matches up with what the town asked for, he said. Funds for remediation would involve a separate application for funds, Brown has said.

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This $239,801 is in addition to a $19,534 loan through the CWSRF for planning a phase two study of the site, Brown previously said.

The repayment term for both loan amounts is 10 years, with no interest for the entire term, and no payments or interest for five years, he said.

Both are also reimbursement-based, so the town pays for the work in question, and is then reimbursed for the costs from the loan funds.

Once a month, the town can submit a reimbursement request with the state, which would include records of payments they've made for covered services, Brown has confirmed.

"Once we get that, we turn that around in a couple of days," he said.

The small amount of money the town has expended thus far will be reimbursed from the loan funds, Walker previously said.

Per the DEC, the town will still have to complete whatever remediation work is necessary, regardless of funding assistance it receives.

"What we find is what we have to clean up," Walker previously said. "We have to do it. We're mandated."

The total cost for the project, including remediation, has been estimated at $750,000.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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