A report on the conditions at the former Hurley landfill has led to questions in the town about possible pollution of nearby wells caused by lack of maintenance. Crawford & Associates, the town’s engineers, suggested the town apply for a grant to remediate PFAS detected by DEC’s testing.
The engineering report prompted councilman Mike Boms to ask whether the lack of leachate pumping for 15 months would have caused contamination. DEC regional enforcement engineer David Pollack had been concerned about the lack of pumping, Boms said.
“Basically, that by having no leachate pulls for those 15 months, the field became very saturated and could breach the berm. And he said that it could escape and migrate outside the leachate field, streams, or into neighboring wells,” Boms said. “About a month later, we got a report saying that there were wells on Collier Road that had the same contaminants in their drinking water as what’s in the leachate field, contaminants that DEC has tested for.”
Crawford project engineer Kim Punchar confirmed the landfill’s original construction was an issue. “The problem with the site is you have landfill material which is solid waste that’s been deposited directly on bedrock with no liner,” she said. “Normally, a landfill has a liner below and a cap above which basically encapsulates the waste within a landfill, which is a collection system which collects the leachate that’s generated within the landfill and sends it to a specific location.”
She called Hurley’s landfill in an old quarry with shallow bedrock an “unfortunate” location.
Supervisor Melinda McKnight said the area was in a severe drought at the time leachate wasn’t pumped. “New York State was in a drought that was so severe …. We hadn’t seen a drought like that in 20 years. That’s according to the National Weather Service,” she said.
New York State was in a severe drought from mid-2020 to September 2021.”
Deputy supervisor Peter Humphries, who has been criticized for tinkering with the leachate system, elaborated. “I can jump in and solve this whole problem for all of you,” Humphries said. “This was held on by two jerry-rigged hose clamps.” He held a pipe and fitting that had been saved from the leachate collection system.
Two leachate collection tanks were connected to the pipe with a “T” fitting and the tanks would fill up to the point where the fitting had come off the pipe.
“The reason the tanks never filled all the way up is because when it reached this level, it leaked out,” he explained, pointing to the area where the fitting had separated from the pipe. “None of this stuff was ever fixed. It was always hob-jobbed together or pulled out.”
Humphries said the system pumped out 250,000 gallons in one month after he fixed it.
“It became abundantly clear that we were pumping groundwater and also snow melt,’ McKnight said of the increased volume.
That was when the town installed a cover over the berm.
McKnight said that a DEC violation in late 2021 was caused by a repair job that had failed to install circuitry to cut off the pumps when that water level was high, resulting in an overflow.
But Boms said the overflows were happening before the pumps were fixed and doubted all of it could have been caused by rainwater and snow melt.
“It worked periodically. It would work periodically due to these faults and problems in it, which are now documented we have. And when they would fill up too high, that pump would continue to pump in pump, pump, pump,” Humphries claimed.
Councilwoman Jana Martin chimed in. “The system had a lot of problems,” she said. “It’s getting fixed. We have an engineering firm who’s been working on all of it. We just had a sort of who did what to whom and all of this. It’s done.”
She thanked Crawford & Associates for their work they’ve done and their clear report and Humphries for “working on this tirelessly every day.”
“No cost to your taxpayers’ money,” Humphries said.
And it’s a labor of love,” Martin said.