Leaking landfills fuel contamination concerns across state

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Updated: 12/19/2013 4:36 am
A report by the Texas Campaign for the Environment says 40 percent of the nearly 200 active landfills in Texas are leaking toxins, and one of Lubbock's two landfills is on the list.

The 2013 report uses Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) data from 2012.

"Well if residents are on well water, it would probably be a good idea to get your well water tested," Robin Schneider, Executive Director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, said. "It's hard to know how these plumes of toxins move underground."

According to the report, the city's landfill in the 8400 block of North Avenue P is leaking heavy metals, as well as some volatile organic compounds. 

"It's been determined that the contamination is directly related to an interface of landfill gas with the groundwater," Jeff Bertl, with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said. "Therefore, the corrective action that was put in place was to withdraw the landfill gas so it would not have that interaction with the groundwater."

He said the TCEQ has done what it can to minimize the risk posed to residents. 

"The grading of the groundwater has been determined to be in a northeast direction, which is away from the city of Lubbock," Bertl said. "So, as far as any contamination, if it were to get off site, it would not come towards the city of Lubbock."

Schneider said the Texas Campaign for the Environment is working to reduce the toxins being put into the landfills to reduce potential contamination in the long run. 

"The state of Texas has passed laws to require that if a company is selling computers and televisions, they have to set up recycling programs," Schneider said. "We are working to get the battery makers to do the same thing."

She said as consumers, we can utilize producer take-back programs at places like Best Buy and Goodwill, which take electronics and rechargeable batteries, which can help keep those products out of the landfills. 

For more information on household hazardous waste products, as well as how to properly dispose of them, click here.

To see the entire Texas Campaign for the Environment report "Texas Leaking Landfills List 2013" click here.
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