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February 2007

$1.2 million approved for closure of Connecticut landfill site

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell announced that $1.2 million in state funds for the final capping and closure of the Yaworski Landfill in Canterbury were expected to be approved when the State Bond Commission met in January.

The funds will allow the state to install a multi-layer membrane cap over the landfill and to build a system to properly manage the release of methane gases that collect from the decomposition of trash buried at the Yaworski site.

“The proper and final closure of the Yaworski Landfill has been a longstanding issue in Southeastern Connecticut,” Governor Rell said. “It is time to bring this saga to a close. Putting a permanent cap on the site will protect surrounding natural resources from contamination and installing a system to manage methane gases will ensure that nearby homes are not endangered in any way.”

The Yaworski Landfill was a privately-owned site for the disposal of municipal solid waste as well as commercial and industrial waste. It operated from about 1950 until 1995, when it was closed under orders from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The 35-acre landfill is located on the west side of Packer Road, adjacent to the Quinebaug River in Canterbury.

The owners of the site installed a soil and grass cap on the landfill after it was closed. That cap, however, was not intended to be permanent and erosion has led to the exposure of waste and the leaching of contaminated water into subsurface water and a nearby tributary to the Quinebaug River after rain and snowstorms. The owners had also installed a system to manage methane gases – to prevent them from flowing toward adjacent homes and creating odors or the potential for explosions. This system has been repaired several times and is in need of replacement.

DEP accepted responsibility for the final closure of the landfill under terms of a Superior Court consent judgment in May, 2000.

This judgment resolved numerous lawsuits and enforcement actions brought against the Yaworskis by DEP as well as a private citizen’s group.

As a result of this agreement, DEP took over management of the tem-porary cap and the existing methane gas system and assumed responsibility for developing and implementing a final closure plan.

The state Department of Public Works (DPW) is working work with DEP to put this project out to bid and will provide day-to-day construction management. Construction is expected to begin by this summer and will take 12-to-18 months to complete. When the project is complete, DEP will continue to maintain the cap and operate the gas collection system.

The Yaworski Lagoon National Priority list site is located on the same property approximately 1,000 feet northwest of the landfill, but is not part of the current landfill-capping project. The lagoon was closed by the US Environmental Protection Agency under the Federal Superfund Program in the early 1990s. DEP currently operates and maintains the cap on the lagoon and will continue to have that responsibility.

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