An Update on the Hamilton Landfill, a Continuing Nuisance

May 3, 2019

 

How did this happen? Under current Loudoun County regulations, anyone can have a landfill in their backyard or adjacent to their property.  Is this Loudoun County's new rural economy? Take 8 minutes to watch this video that documents a landfill east of Hamilton, Virginia. It was approved by the County in 2015, without public notice or public participation, as a "personal recreational field" and it is located on 18 acres zoned AR-1, an agricultural rural zoning district. 

 

It has an egregious, ugly presence.  It rises more than thirty feet high and dominates a quarter-mile long boundary with neighboring conserved land.  It is estimated that it contains 420,000 to 500,000 cubic yards of demolition and construction waste, or 28,000 to 34,000 truckloads. Liquid waste has also been dumped in the landfill.  The revenue from dumping this much waste is potentially in the millions of dollars. 

 

The landfill significantly impacts the environment.  It negatively impacts the viewshed and the watershed.  It reduces open space, flora and fauna and farmland.  It reduces the quality of the groundwater and may potentially contaminate the groundwater. It increases dust, noise, sediment erosion, and hazardous road conditions on Colonial Highway.

 

No one knows what is in the waste because there were no manifests from dumpers and because the groundwater and surface water have not been tested. 

 

In February of 2019, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) did a visual walk-through inspection of the site. They did not take samples and no testing was done.  They will NOT certify that the landfill does not contain hazardous waste.  Would you allow your child to drink water from a well at this landfill?

 

There are no monitoring wells. There are no setbacks and no screening.  There were no notices given to neighbors and there were no public hearings.

 

This is unacceptable. 

 

Is this activity consistent with the County’s Comprehensive Plan and the Board of Supervisors’ desire to conserve more land in rural Loudoun County?  Landfills, like this one, discourage residents from conserving land and threaten the viability of all county, state, and national conservation programs.  Why would anyone conserve property in Loudoun County, if the County cannot protect conserved property from an unmonitored landfill?

 

According to the Piedmont Environmental Council, large scale dumping activities are occurring in other counties.  In a letter dated March 22, 2019 from Dan Holmes, Director of State Policy for the Piedmont Environmental Council, to Joshua Saks, Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources for Virginia, Holmes states that large scale dumping activities are occurring “under the guise of agriculture, in Loudoun, Prince William, and Fauquier Counties” and “have failed to trigger reasonable state oversight.”

 

It has been five months since the County issued a Stop Work Order (11/29/2018) to the property owner.  It has been three months since Cattail, LC released its video and wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors expressing concern.  (See the video and letter on the website below.) 

 

Save Rural Loudoun, the Piedmont Environmental Council, the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia, the Loudoun County Preservation and Conservation Coalition, and the Nature Conservancy have all expressed concern about this issue. 

 

How long will the community have to wait before the County takes action to protect us and to prevent this from happening again? 

 

What can you do to help?  Watch the 8-minute video on this website. The video has had more than 5,000 plays since it was first released and it will give you a sense of the scale of the landfill and how it dominates the viewshed and watershed.  (Once you have watched the video, you, too, will be appalled.)

 

Read Cattail, LC’s January 24, 2019 letter to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.  It is also posted on the website.  Attachments 6 and 7 of the letter provide recommendations on how to effectively mitigate the impacts of the landfill and on how to change County ordinances.

 

Participate in the Loudoun Stockpiling Facebook site to exchange information and share ideas. 

 

Write to the local papers and to the Board, and insist that the County protect the community by installing monitoring wells and by changing current County regulations.  Insist that the landfill be cleaned up now.  Insist that this should never happen again.  Uses of this kind, by whatever names they are called – “dirt farms”, “landfills”, “excessive fill” or “personal recreational fields” -- are NOT enhancements to the rural economy and should NOT be permitted in rural Loudoun. 

 

 

Trivia Fact

The most common word used to describe the landfill by viewers watching the video of the landfill is:  “appalling”.