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Geologic study: Chrin landfill on solid enough ground

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Nov 14 2013 10:16:27 AM CST
Updated On: Nov 14 2013 06:32:39 PM CST

Study eases pollution fears of Williams township landfill

WILLIAMS TWP., Pa. -

The land underneath the Chrin landfill in Williams Township is suitable for what's on top, an independent geologic study has concluded.

The results of a six-month study evaluating geologic data in the area of the landfill were presented to Williams Township supervisors Wednesday night by Bethlehem-based EMS Environmental.

The supervisors paid EMS $30,000 for the study, in hopes of resolving long-standing claims by several township residents members that there could be limestone beneath the landfill, and if sinkholes develop, landfill liners could be damaged and groundwater polluted.

EMS' Micheal Serfes and Don Monteverde spent 90 minutes explaining in detail the data they studied and how they interpreted it. They concluded the rock under Chrin operation is "non carbonate" -- not limestone -- and that the existence of a geological fault under the landfill is "unlikely."

The landfill sits atop saprolite -- bedrock whose top layers have been chemically weathered by moisture, including rain water and runoff, Serfes said.

Serfes described saprolite as "rotten bedrock," and said even at a depth of 260 feet, "you can pick up the material and do this," making a crumbling motion with his hand.

As he was leaving the township building Wednesday night, Serfes summed up the study's findings for members of the media by saying,"Nothing we saw would violate putting a landfill [where it is]."

The supervisors were given EMS' 49-page report just 15 minutes before the start of the meeting, supervisors chairman George Washburn pointed out.

Underscoring the study's independence, Washburn also noted that only the township manager and engineer were involved in choosing EMS and only they were in contact with the firm while the study was being conducted.

Before Serfes and Monteverde spoke, Washburn said, "Hopefully this will put this issue to bed, one way or another."

Afterward, he said, "As far as I'm concerned, [the geology question] is a dead issue and will stay a dead issue as long as I am on the board."

Washburn's fellow supervisors said they were pleased with the study.

Supervisor Vincent Foglia said, "George wanted this [study], and we got a very good product."

Outgoing supervisor Sally Hixon noted that she voted in February against funding the study, "being the cheapskate that I am." Still, she called the end result "excellent."

"I hope this issue is now put to bed, but I doubt it will be," Hixon added. "I hope the board does not spend another penny on engineering studies at the Chrin landfill."