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Changes in landfill management over the years as well as changes of elected officials and changes in environmental and health agency staffs have caused gaps in information vital to proper, agency compliant operations at the county’s landfill facility.

On January 11, Christy Swenson, Remediation Scientist with the Idaho Falls Department of Environmental Quality office, was the lead spokesperson for a team of DEQ and District 7 Public Health Department officials at a meeting with the Lemhi County Commissioners and Landfill Manager Ken Boese.

She said the last audit of the landfill was in 2010, before Boese was manager, and at that time there were some problems identified but not addressed. Since then due to probable agency staff record-keeping changes some records have been lost. Swenson said all three agencies, the DEQ, the Health Department and the county, share in the oversights that have taken place. She said Boese has already addressed some of the issues and her concern is to get things documented and move forward.

Swenson said there are 14 phases at the local landfill. Each phase is supposed to be constructed according to approved design, and then certified. She has only been able to find certification letters for Phase I and Phase II. She said the issue of properly vented and certified landfill cell construction as well as cell closures is one of the biggest concerns since she can find no certifications.

Another equally major concern is that there is supposed to be a leachate collection ladder and drainage system which was documented in the first two phases but not since then. It is unknown if the leachate system continues through the rest of the phases so a camera will have to be run through the line to check its length and whether there are the required clean outs every 300 feet.

There is a possibility that because the landfill sits on such tight clay, Bentonite, that not enough leachate is being produced to require a drain. Without documented certification, steps will have to be taken to evaluate the situation. The commissioners approved hiring a company to run a camera through the line. Swenson said the main thing is to find out if a system was constructed as directed in the originally approved landfill plan.

Methane monitoring wells have always been on site at the landfill but there are no after construction “as-builts” to confirm things were built according to plans. Swenson said there is always the chance everything has been being done correctly and it is only the documentation that is missing. She feels the top priorities are the cell closures and leachate line.

Swenson said progress is being made and Boese has managed to find a lot of the documentation. Swenson indicated her goal is to see working plans in place by warm weather. She said she is not overly concerned about ground water contamination because this landfill is situated on one of the best soil condition locations in the region. The lack of documentation to determine if everything was constructed properly is the main concern.

Also in attendance and actively working the Lemhi County Landfill documentation problems were: Eastern Idaho Public Health Department Health Division Director Kellye Eager; Department of Environmental Quality Regional Administrator Erick Neher and Eastern Idaho Public Health Department Environmental Health Supervisor Nathan Taylor.

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