At the Lake: Forest Service approves landfill-capping procedure | RecordCourier.com

At the Lake: Forest Service approves landfill-capping procedure

by Adam Jensen, Tahoe Daily Tribune

About 300,000 cubic yards of decomposing waste at an old landfill near Meyers will be contained using a multilayer cap, the U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday.

The third of four possible alternatives, included as part of a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) process for the Meyers landfill, was approved last week.

Alternative 3, which includes 5 feet of various soil layers and a synthetic barrier to isolate contaminants in the main portion of the landfill, represents the middle ground for alternatives the Forest Service studied.

No synthetic barrier would have been included as part of Alternative 2; an extra foot of soil would have been added to the cap under Alternative 4.

Remediation measures for a 1,500-foot groundwater contaminant plume extending from the landfill will be considered under a separate process from the one that determined configuration of the cap.

Public meetings this summer fostered confusion about whether the CERCLA process requires designating an eventual use for the site.

“Any specific future use of National Forest System lands is a separate administrative process outside of CERCLA that needs to go through the normal agency administrative process for authorizing those types of activities,” noted the Forest Service’s record of decision.

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care supporters have advocated relocating and expanding the center to the site after the landfill remediation is complete.

The alternative selected by the Forest Service is compatible with a feasibility study for a wildlife park, but current agency regulations don’t allow the creation of a wildlife center at the site, according to the Forest Service decision.

Under current regulations, activities such as hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, horseback riding and other nonmotorized day use would be allowed at the site after remediation measures are complete.

The selection of Alternative 3 was met with mixed feelings from Tom Millham, Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care secretary/treasurer.

“It’s not as good as 4 would have been, but it’s better than 1 or 2,” said Millham, who vowed to continue pushing for a wildlife park at the site. “There are enough people, which has been proven by the meetings, that are interested in having a wildlife park at this site. So, yes, we’re going to continue on with our quest.”

Also as part of last week’s decision, landfill waste that has accumulated over a South Tahoe Public Utility District sewer line will be consolidated into the main body of the landfill, rather than moving the line from under the waste.

The decision was met with support from the utility district.

“We felt that since the line was where it was supposed to be, and it was functioning properly, that it was a waste of money, regardless of whose money it was, if we had to move that line,” said Dennis Cocking, utility district spokesman.

Who will pay for implementing the landfill cap still is up in the air. The outcome will be determined through a civil case brought by the federal government against previous operators of the landfill, including El Dorado County and the city of South Lake Tahoe, indicated the Forest Service’s record of decision.

The case, which is more than 5 years old, is pending in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.