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Hearing tomorrow on latest landfill permit application


January 15, 2014
BETHLEHEM — Regulators who monitor North Country Environmental Services (NCES), which operates a landfill on Trudeau Road, will attend a public hearing tomorrow evening at Profile High School. The event, which starts at 6 p.m., provides a chance to learn about and comment on the Title V permitting process.

Title V was established in the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990. The changes created a national permitting program for facilities that release air pollutants. The Title V regulatory process includes reporting and monitoring requirements, based on the law's focus on reducing contaminants that can affect air quality.

The landfill and NCES, a wholly owned subsidiary of Casella Waste Systems of Rutland, Vt., has been controversial over the years. Much debate within the town, and long ranging legal disputes with NCES, continued as the company sought to expand the landfill. Two years ago, voters authorized a settlement agreement, including a ten-acre expansion of the landfill.

Decay in a landfill creates several types of gases. If not properly monitored and controlled, landfill gases create air pollutants, explosion risks, and possible groundwater contamination.

The Title V permit is designed to consolidate various rules into one document. The process ensures "information about all of a source's air pollution is in one place," according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website.

Barbara Dorfschmidt, with the state's Department of Environmental Services (DES), said the Clean Air Act required each state "to develop an operating permit program." New Hampshire's program has EPA approval, she said.

DES oversight of landfills, based on the EPA-approved plan, includes monitoring practices discussed in the application and draft Title V permit. Routine inspections and data review are part of the oversight program. NCES must conduct quarterly surface scans at the landfill, for example. Of the surface scans, Dorfschmidt said, "DES always goes up to witness that test."

Heather Little, of Sanborn Head, a Vermont engineering firm, provided permitting information to the state. She said the hearing is intended to provide information to the public. She said the NCES Title V application is "an operating permit for the flare that is there now," as well as a back-up flare. The devices are meant to ensure emissions from landfill operations "stay below the required thresholds" established in federal law, Little said.

Information for the draft NCES Title V permit was submitted to DES in August. The application is 80 pages, while the draft permit is 30 pages. The application includes large amounts of data related to control of the landfill gases created as part of the facility's operations.

According to the application, the NCES gas collection system includes a network of wells and trenches. Pipes and tanks are also part of the system to protect air quality. The system is designed to control primary and secondary pollutants that would otherwise escape into surrounding air.

Sixteen pages in the application cover the state and federal rules applicable to the landfill, including the NCES compliance status with these rules.

Regarding the hearing, Dorfschmidt said the public can provide oral comments on the proposed Title V permit. Written comments are also accepted.

More information about Title V is available online. Go to: http://www.epa.gov/oaqps001/permits.

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