An old landfill is causing new problems in East Moline.
It closed in the late 1980's. Since then, rising levels of contaminants have been leaching into the ground.
The city hired an environmental consultant to help solve the problem. Now, the plan is to spend more than a quarter of a million dollars to take care of it.
The landfill sits on a hill north of the Quad City Downs. Throughout the 70's and 80's, environmental laws and standards were far less strict. That led to people dumping things in the landfill that they wouldn't be able to today.
"Everything from batteries to electronics. If it fit in the back of a truck, it probably made it to the landfill," said Tim Kammler, East Moline's Director of Engineering.
By the time the East Moline landfill closed down for good, the damage had already been done.
"The folks that were dumping back in the 70's and the 80's, ultimately they were following the rules at the time. But obviously now at this point, 50 years beyond that, we have learned some lessons from the past and we are tying to be good stewards of the situation that we have inherited," said Kammler.
Contaminants coming from the old landfill isn't a new problem. About a decade ago, the city hired an environmental consultant to help them figure out how to deal with the lechate, or toxic runoff, coming from the site. The nearest homes are only a few miles downhill from the old landfill, but Kammler says the runoff is not an immediate threat.
"How toxic is this leachate? It is not very toxic at all. The contaminants that are in there are regulated, but they're not to the concentrations that are harmful to people or animals," said Kammler.
The old landfill was never equipped with a clay liner to help protect the earth underneath. There is a clay cap on it now, but groundwater is still seeping into the old garbage buried there.
The city installed a system to pump the leachate out, but Kammler says it's only getting about 50 to 60% of it out of the groundwater. That's why the city is spending about $2709,000 more on a new system.
The money for the new leachate collection system is coming from fees saved up from when the old landfill was in use. Construction on the new system is expected to start within the next few weeks.
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