It's not well known, but Sussex County operated six landfills from 1968 to 1984 totaling 600 acres. The areas were turned into transfer stations when capacity limits were reached. None of the areas is currently being used, but county officials are charged with maintenance and monitoring of the sites.
The last landfill in use near Bridgeville was closed in 1984, and the transfer stations were closed in 1994 when Delaware Solid Waste Authority took over trash collection at its Johnson's Crossroads landfill.
The six sites are near Laurel, Bridgeville, Stockley, Angola, Anderson Crossroads and Omar.
On the recommendation of county engineer Hans Medlarz, Sussex County Council, at its March 22 meeting, approved a five-year contract not to exceed $100,000 to Weston Solutions Inc. to provide consulting services for monitoring of the former landfill sites.
Over the years, Sussex County has spent millions on maintenance and monitoring. Each year, the county budgets between $75,000 and $125,000 toward the landfill sites.
Medlarz said the landfills are unlined with many private wells downstream from the sites.
Ground and surface water is tested using monitoring, irrigation and agricultural wells. Surface water bodies are also tested at the former landfill sites or in close proximity. Medlarz said hundreds of samples are collected each year.
“Has there been a significant impact on waterways?” asked Councilman John Rieley.
“Not based on samples and what we have observed,” Medlarz replied.
As they closed, the landfills were covered with dirt and fenced in; over the years vegetation has overtaken the sites.
The county maintains buffer zones around the sites, and provides central water systems to communities near the old landfills. One of the largest, Walker's Mill Park manufactured home community, is across from the Bridgeville landfill site. In 1996, the county hired Tidewater Utilities to install a central water system to serve the park and all adjoining residential parcels. Monitoring in the 1980s showed groundwater was contaminated with inorganics and volatile organic compounds.
Medlarz said five of the six landfill sites fall under regulations in the Delaware Hazardous Substances Clean-Up Act, while the Laurel site falls under federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations. The engineer said at one time, all six sites were under federal regulation.