Chester landfill set to expand?

Shoosmith Bros. Landfill could be adding a mechanically stabilized earthen (MSE) berm to their landfill, at Lewis and Iron Bridge roads, if the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approves Shoosmith’s permit request.

A public hearing was held on Tuesday, Sept. 10, but citizens have until Sept. 25 to make comments by way of the DEQ website (, by email or regular mail. The full permit application can be found at the Central Library on Lori Road.

According to Fletcher Kelly, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Shoosmith Bros. Landfill, MSE berms assist with sustainability by helping to maximize space within a given area of the landfill. And because Shoosmith converts landfill gas into electricity, more energy will be created using this area of the landfill. Kelly said there will be a net zero configuration of the landfill.

The berm would average 30 feet high, 30 to 50 feet wide and about 1,700 feet in length. It will also begin at the bottom of the slope of the current landfill and be constructed of mesh bags of stone.

Kelly says, at green mesh will cover the berm to allow grass to be planted on the berm making it virtually unnoticeable from the rest of the landfill on which Bermuda grass is planted. The Petersburg Landfill uses a berm along the base of its landfill but it is not covered with grass and has an unappealing presentation.

Some Chesterfield citizens are concerned that the fly ash, which will be used as a cover (a daily cap) for the trash deposited there each day is a pollutant. Look at the trash and cover as a layer cake: trash, a cover of a mixture of ash and clay, trash and cover and so on. That is essentially what will fill the space behind the berm.

“I believe the real problem, beyond the whole idea of fly ash and its potential to pollute the environment is DEQ, and their Beneficial Use Determination (BUD) program,” said Robert Olsen, who has been critical of the Skinquarter Landfill. “The benefit of fly ash as a construction product is well documented to be a problem.”

Olsen says fly ash has a reputation for expanding, which may not be an appropriate use for fill and says that due to its properties, it may not work in a landfill situation.   

The Highlands Community Association, adjacent to the landfill stated, “Fly ash is composed of fine non-biodegradable particulates created as a by product of coal combustion. These particulates include trace levels of the carcinogens arsenic, chromium, selenium, and mercury. Fly Ash will frequently fail the EPA test for toxicity, thus requiring placing it in a regulated monofill designated as a hazardous landfill.

“Leachate is a liquid waste material generated within the landfill and caused by the decomposition of refuse and the percolation of rainwater through the waste material.

“Therefore, fly-ash landfill regulations typically require double composite high-density polyethylene lined containment areas with leachate detection and collection zones. Should breaches occur in the lined areas, leachate can contaminate the environment. Inspection is a daily requirement in an effort to stop leaching early and prevent contamination of, in particular, drinking water.” Kelly says, the berm will comply with all of The Highlands concerns, including double liners, daily inspections (already in place) and leachate collection.

According to the DEQ public notice, Shoomisth Bros. Inc. has applied for a modification to a permit that allows the Shoosmith Sanitary Landfill to operate an existing landfill in Chesterfield County, Virginia. The modification to the permit would allow the facility to construct a MSE berm along the southwest peninsula of the existing landfill . The berm construction would allow for a net-zero reconfiguration of the landfill.

“We applaud the DEQ for their thorough examination and support as we implement our master plan,” Kelly said. “At Shoosmith Bros. Landfill, The Recycling Center and Virginia Waste Services, we are dedicated to environmental integrity in the preservation and improvement of our community.”


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