HARTFORD, CT—The state Bond Commission approved funding for work at five closed landfills in Connecticut, including items to address PFAS contamination at two homes near the Ellington dump.
The commission unanimously approved $750,000 Wednesday, adding to a previously-approved $700,000. The money will go toward a variety of upgrades needed at closed landfills in Hartford, Ellington, Waterbury, Wallingford, and Shelton.
Included in the project is work at two homes near the Ellington landfill, where PFAS chemicals have leached into the drinking water. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has been supplying bottled water to those homes, but will add filtration systems to remove PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances), the potentially hazardous substances found in thousands of consumer products.
DEEP has been responsible for the landfills since a 2014 reorganization of the former Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority that created the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority.
Work in Ellington also includes repairs to the methane collection system on the site and filtration at the nearby homes. Work is also being done to determine whether other homes in the area are also seeing PFAS contamination.
DEEP staff said runoff is not collected or treated at the Ellington landfill like it is elsewhere in the state, but testing will be done throughout 2020 to determine where groundwater systems might be affected.
Landfills have been identified by the Governor’s PFAS Task Force as one of many significant sources of PFAS presence in the environment, and the Nov. 1 task force report recommends extensive further study of the contamination they can cause.
In Hartford, extensive work to the groundwater and runoff collection and treatment systems will be done, DEEP said. The North End site off the side of I-91 appears to need the most extensive list of improvements.
The Metropolitan District Commission filed its second lawsuit against the state, alleging that DEEP is responsible for PFAS contamination in the groundwater from the closed Hartford landfill.
A DEEP spokeswoman said the list for work in Hartford is “repairs to the groundwater control pumping system, repairs to methane gas wellheads, repairs to the landfill cap, remediation of erosion due to aging stormwater control systems, repair or replacement of leachate collection tank, and groundwater treatment evaluation.”
Improvements in Waterbury and Shelton include items like fending installation, tree removal and slope stabilization.
Legislators and the state must carefully monitor and address Connecticut’s waste needs, said State Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton. He said the needed work at the closed landfills is just one part of a long list of deficiencies, including major renovations needed at the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority’s trash-to-energy plant in Hartford.
“We do have an ongoing issue at the MIRA plant with not only its two turbines but the possibility of relocating it or tearing that down and rebuilding on the same location,” Witkos said during the meeting Wednesday. “At the end of the day it’s incumbent on us in the state to address our trash to energy versus shipping our stuff out of state to landfills.”
MIRA’s two turbines have been out of service many times in the last few years due to their age and heavy workload. The massive overhaul necessary to modernize the system that burns trash and captures the energy is expected to cost around $330 million.
Executive Director Thomas Kirk said Wednesday that if the agency’s current schedule holds, it could begin a three-year construction project by the end of 2020. Cost estimates came in recently higher than initially expected, so towns will need to be convinced that they should be a part of a regional trash infrastructure even though it will likely mean large disposal fee increases, he said.
MIRA will hold a meeting on Jan. 8 with municipalities to pitch the remodel plan, which needs long-term agreements with towns in order to finance the renovations.