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LOCKPORT – The temporary cap on the last active landfill operated by Niagara County is complete, the workers either have left for other departments or soon will do so, and the equipment is being readied for sale.

Interim Refuse Disposal District Director Dawn M. Timm told the district board last week that everything from a bulldozer to shovels will be sold, either at auction or by being offered to municipalities or other county departments.

Among the items to be sold is the Gruendler tub grinder, which a decade ago cost $600,000 from a state grant and the sale of the county’s share of the national settlement between state governments and tobacco companies.

“Because all the [refuse district] employees are moving to Highway by the end of the month, there is no need for this Gruendler,” said Michael F. Tracy, deputy public works commissioner for highways.

Timm said one office worker has retired and the other resigned; a heavy equipment operator and a truck driver moved to the Highway Department effective last Monday; and the other two employees will make that move at the end of August.

The 12-inch soil cover has been applied to the construction and demolition landfill, which accepted its last load July 3. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has a permanent closure plan for the landfill on file, but Timm said it needs to be revised, since the landfill was closed before it ran out of room.

The landfill height is 50 feet lower than it would have been if all the available space had been used, Timm said. A permanent cap is to be installed next year.

Meanwhile, the county is talking with the DEC about repairs to the caps on two other long-closed Lockport landfills. Landfill gas has been bubbling through the cap on Landfill 2, and the district’s consulting firm, Clough Harbour & Associates, is preparing a plan to relieve the gas buildup.

The DEC also is preparing a work plan for the Landfill 1 cap. The county is under a consent order to alleviate groundwater contamination, gas venting and cap deterioration. The clay’s thickness varies from 6 inches to 3 feet.

“The DEC says if it’s not 2 feet, it’s going to fail. We’re saying it’s great clay. There’s got to be some other hydraulic reasons” for the problems, Timm said.

She also presented an audit of the district’s finances, which reduced the estimate of its long-term deficit from $8.2 million to $6.1 million.

Timm said she thought the district’s previous director, Richard P. Pope, overestimated the long-term maintenance costs of the old landfills, especially Landfill 1.

The district had been assuming that it would receive grants and compel payments from companies such as General Motors that dumped in the landfill decades ago. Timm said she took that out of the financial plan, considering it “guesswork.”

She also said Pope assumed Landfill 1 would need elaborate re-capping operations.

“My only opinion is, if this needs to be done, we can’t make up a number,” Timm said.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com