COVENTRY — With the town council’s approval this week of a resolution authorizing additional manpower in the final stage of the project to close the landfill on Arnold Road, remediation efforts at the site are nearly complete. 

The project, which began on-site in 2014 after  the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) targeted it in the early 2000s for proper closure, is expected to wrap up some two years ahead of schedule.

“They’re moving along at a great clip over there,” Interim Town Manager Ed Warzycha said Monday, adding that the capping process, which had originally been slated for completion by 2021, should be finished by the end of next month.

The resolution approved Monday will allow GZA GeoEnvironmental, the consulting firm hired to oversee the project, to bring additional engineers in during the capping.

“Because they’re working at such a pace, they need to be able to maintain oversight… to ensure that this is done correctly,” Warzycha said.

The contract with GZA had originally called for just one engineer to be on site. But since the decision was made to install a synthetic cap rather than one of soil, additional work will be necessary to “properly evaluate and document the materials,” according to the resolution authorizing the change order.

The costs associated with adding engineers — as much as $73,700, which will be shared with the other responsible parties — will be fully covered by Beneficial Use Determination (BUD) revenue, Warzycha said.

“So this change order isn’t directly paid by the town,” he added.  

Through the state’s BUD program, which has entailed using DEM-approved, slightly contaminated soils as fill at the site, the town has generated enough revenue to cover its 30-year Operations and Maintenance costs.

Warzycha said Monday that the project to close the landfill has been “very beneficial” to the town.

“This project was originally projected to cost millions to the town,” he added. “I think the town’s portion was somewhere around $7 million, out of pocket, that this was supposed to cost us. This in turn has cost us no additional money.”

In fact, Warzycha said he expects to generate about $600,000 in excess revenue, of which the town will get to keep 60 percent.

Once the project has been completed, Warzycha added, the property could be used to house a massive solar array to generate energy for the town.

“One of the neat things with this, if we did go the solar route,” he said, “we’ve taken a HazMat site, remediated it, turned it around, secured it, and then utilized that site to provide energy for the whole town.”  

Opened in the 1930s as the town’s only dump, the 10-acre property for decades accepted both household and industrial waste. The site was closed in the mid-1970s, and soil was used to cover it. Some 30 years later, however, the state ordered the waste be properly sealed to prevent hazardous materials from contaminating groundwater.

“It’s a pretty neat project,” Warzycha continued, “and we’ve come a long way on this.”

The resolution authorizing the change order was approved by the council unanimously.


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