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Spencer landfill closure is extended two months Company works on standards set by law


The Spencer Sand & Gravel Inc. rubble fill will remain closed for at least two more months as the company finishes work to comply with a year-old county law regulating dumps.

The law requires rubble fill companies to meet about a dozen operating standards, such as installing fences and equipment to wash the wheels of trucks leaving dump sites.

"They're all being implemented," said William Geary, spokesman for the Abingdon company.

Spencer also is conducting routine maintenance work, such as upgrading roads, planting grass and improving erosion controls, Geary said.

Spencer closed the 51-acre rubble fill July 15.

The rubble fill has been the center of concern among Abingdon residents, who fear contamination found in samples taken from the site will spread to other areas.

Meanwhile, Spencer filed a "request for renewal" of its 1987 operating permit with the state Department of the Environment on June 19.

An applicant's performance could affect the renewed permit's conditions, which generally cover hours of operations, materials that can be dumped and water-quality studies, department spokesman John Goheen explained.

"We do look at the past performance," Mr. Goheen said. "We take a look at their compliance record. . . . The past performance may have an impact on the way we write a new permit."

Jan Stinchcomb, an Abingdon resident who has studied Spencer's operations, said she is pleased the state is considering Spencer's performance record as part of its review of the company's renewal request.

In May, Ms. Stinchcomb presented state and county officials a report showing at least 60 complaints have been filed against Spencer over the past 12 years.

The report -- based on reviews of state and county records -- listed complaints including inadequate coverage of waste, odors and unacceptable waste being dumped at the rubble fill.

In March, state tests confirmed that two suspected carcinogens -- trichloroethylene and dichloroethylene -- exceeded state and federal limits in two monitoring wells at the rubble fill.

Mr. Goheen said he does not know when department officials will decide on Spencer's request or what new conditions the agency will require.

Spencer will be able to continue operations under its current permit until the decision is made, Mr. Goheen said.

The department is not required to hold a hearing on requests to renew permits, but citizens can write letters to comment on the ** application, Mr. Goheen said.

The company's current permit, issued in 1987, expires Aug. 6. The permit covers 26 acres on the west side and 25 acres on the east side of the company's Abingdon Road site.

The state generally issues permits good for five years, but environment officials believe the Spencer dump will be filled before the next five-year period would expire, Mr. Goheen said.

The department may require Spencer to include a closing plan for the rubble fill as part of its renewed permit, Mr. Goheen said.

Mr. Geary said the rubble fill has enough capacity to operate for about another 18 months.

Spencer also is seeking a new permit that would allow the company to expand operations by 18 acres. The state must hold a public hearing before deciding whether to grant the permit.

The rubble fill, which has operated since the late 1970s, has been allowed to accept construction and demolition debris but not trash or hazardous wastes.

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