Have you ever wondered what happened to all the waste generated from the demolition of an old house or the construction of a new building? Over the years a lot of the demolition waste from our area was disposed of at a landfill located on Children’s Home Road near Pomeroy, Ohio. The 3.1 acre Construction and Demolition Debris (CDD) landfill was opened in 2002 and operated by the Jeffers Coal, Trucking and Excavating Company. It was later sold to Karrten Enterprises who operated the landfill from 2013 till its recent closure.
The landfill reached it maximum capacity of 31,000 tons of CDD waste in 2017. Other landfills have existed in Meigs County but have long been closed. With the recent closure of the Karrten Construction and Demolition Debris landfill (formerly known as Jeffers CDD Landfill) there are no more active landfills operating in the county. The number of landfills operating in Ohio has also dramatically decreased since 1988. It is estimated that most landfills in Ohio will be closed or have reached their maximum capacity within the next 35 years (Ohio EPA).
In the US, the amount of Construction and Demolition Debris (CDD) is staggering in comparison with other solid waste. In 2014, the US generated 534 million tons of CDD and 258 million tons of typical garbage or Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). The disposal of both CDD and MSW occurs either through recycling, composting, combusting for energy recovery, or in a landfill. Up to 34 percent of the MSW is currently being recycled. The composition of CDD is documented to be mostly concrete (70 percent), asphalt (17 percent), wood products (7 percent), asphalt shingles (3 percent), dry wall (3 percent), brick/clay tile (2 percent) and steel (1 percent).
The current Ohio regulations that govern CDD landfills were adopted in 1990 and required significant planning for the construction and operation to ensure the future protection of the surrounding environment. The Ohio EPA and the Meigs County Health Department are responsible for the oversight of all landfills in the county, active or closed.
One of the most important design requirements for any landfill is the construction of a barrier of highly compacted soil, known as a liner surrounding the debris on all sides preventing any exposure of waste to the surface of the ground or to the underlining ground water. In addition to the soil liner, any moisture or wastewater within the debris must be filtered out and captured by a leachate collection system then transported off site for additional treatment. A significant amount of engineering is also required in the documenting and confirming the construction of the landfill. All the specifications and details of the landfill must be finalized and recorded on the deed of the property so that future generations can identify the location of the landfill.
The Karrten (Jeffers) landfill will continue to be closely monitored by the health department during the post-closure period. Landfills that accepted only CDD have a 5-year post-closure monitoring period while landfills that accepted MSW along with CDD have a much longer monitoring period of 30-years. The health department currently monitors three closed landfills in Meigs County that are in the 30-year period.
As active landfills disappear the future of CDD and MSW disposal must trend toward more recycling and processing CDD materials for reuse. Processing construction and demolition debris materials conserves landfill space, reduces the environmental impact of producing new materials, creates jobs, and can reduce overall building project expenses through avoided purchase/disposal costs (Ohio EPA).
Steve Swatzel, RS, is the Director of Environmental Health for the Meigs County Health Department.