Remediation Torn to Shreds

On April 5, Waste Management released a community update to inform residents that, on April 3, high winds resulted in damage to exposed portions of the geomembrane cover at High Acres.  In recent months, both Waste Management (WM) and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) have applauded the speedy installation of this geomembrane cover, and have promised that its implementation would result in a significant decrease in odors experienced by the community.

Photo of Geomembrane cover damage at High Acres Landfill - Taken by Perinton Resident 04/05/2018

Photo of Geomembrane cover damage at High Acres Landfill - Taken by Perinton Resident 04/05/2018

The below timeline outlines the key milestones in the installation and destruction of the geomembrane cover:

  • Jan 11, 2018 -- Amid community outrage and thousands of odor complaints, Waste Management distributed a community update to inform the public of plans to wrap up work on the existing 7.5 acres of geomembrane cover and liner work, and planned to start work on an additional 1.5 acres of geomembrane cover the following week.
  • Jan 19, 2018 -- WM distributed a community update stating additional specialty contractors had been brought into the site to further accelerate the completion of the 9-acre geomembrane cap being installed along the North and East slopes of Cell 11.  Work was expected to be completed by the end of the next week.
  • Feb 28, 2018 - In a WM community update is was determined that the installation of 9 acres of exposed temporary geomembrane cover along the North and East slopes of cell 11 was now considered "complete".
  • March 29 - WM released quarterly surface scan methane test results to NYSDEC, showing 17 points in exceedance of Perinton's recommended 200ppm (10 of which exceeded regulation 500ppm). During the Perinton Town Board Meeting, NYSDEC Regional Director Paul D'Amato stated his belief that many of these exceedances were believed to be at the location of the geomembrane cover, and would likely be resolved as additional work was completed to repair tears in the cover.
Photo of the north side of the the landfill taken 04/02/2018

Photo of the north side of the the landfill taken 04/02/2018

  • April 2 - FAFE alerted WM, Town of Perinton, and NYSDEC to visible bubbling of geomembrane.
  • April 3 - NYSDEC informed FAFE of remaining work to be done on the "completed" geomembrane, stating required work to finish welding seams and to add sandbags to weigh the cover down. NYSDEC Regional Environmental Quality Supervisor, Scott Foti, also stated:

    "... it is part of the original design to utilize a network of sandbags to anchor the geo-membrane.  This is a very common and effective technique used by landfills who employ geomembrane.  As I’m sure you can imagine, it is very important to securely anchor geomembrane to prevent it from being displaced in high winds.  Any type of sheet material is vulnerable to having just a small corner caught by wind and then being seriously displaced when wind gets underneath. " - Scott Foti, NYSDEC
  • April 5 - WM informed the community of damage to portions of the exposed geomembrane.

WM has informed the public that replacement materials have already been ordered work has already begun to replace the damaged portions of liner that can be safely accessed.  WM also claims that the gas collection system remains fully functional and those areas of the landfill remain under vacuum. However, neither WM nor the NYSDEC have provided a timeline to the community for completion of repairs. 

FAFE has reached out to the NYSDEC for further information on the geomembrane options available to WM, and the quality selection process. It is our hope that the NYSDEC and WM will be able to provide a trail of record to dispute that, in addition to weather conditions, engineering decisions did not contribute to this damage.

FAFE firmly believes that the top priority for NYSDEC and WM should be the safety and welfare of the public. All resources should be diverted to remediation immediately with a halt of intake.