Posted by: nevadansagainstgarbage | March 10, 2010

U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Evaluation of the Jungo Area March 5, 2010

On September 22, 2009, the Interior Appropriation (S.A. 2494) was amended to require the U.S. Geological Survey to evaluate the proposed Jungo landfill site.
The study was to evaluate the site for: (1) potential water-quality impacts on nearby surface-water resources, including Rye Patch Reservoir and the Humboldt River;
(2) potential impacts on municipal water resources of Winnemucca, Nevada;
(3) locations and altitudes of aquifers;
(4) how long it will take waste seepage from the site to contaminate local aquifers; and
(5) the direction and distance that contaminated groundwater would travel at 95 and 190 years. This evaluation was based on review of existing data and information.

Estimates indicate that a subsurface release of contaminants from the proposed Jungo landfill site would not reach supply wells for more than 200 years. However, determining which wells could potentially be affected is complex because the flat topography makes it difficult to accurately measure groundwater altitudes and estimate gradients and flow directions in southern Desert Valley.

Some basic groundwater-quality data (such as sodium and chloride) exists in the Jungo area, but anthropogenic contaminants (such as volatile organic compounds) are known to occur along railroads. It would be prudent to assess groundwater for anthropogenic contaminants prior to construction of the facility and to age-date the groundwater to verify groundwater velocities. It also is unknown if groundwater is moving south to Rye Patch Reservoir or west to the Black Rock Desert. This work could be done by RecologyTM or by an impartial third party. Data needed to better evaluate the Jungo area include:
1. Survey wells using a differential global positioning system to measure well and groundwater altitudes to within 0.1 ft;
2. Sample groundwater around the proposed Jungo landfill site to characterize baseline water quality;
3. Use geochemical techniques to date groundwater and verify groundwater velocities; and
4. Drill wells to the south and west to determine directions of groundwater flow from southern Desert Valley.
To read the survey report go to the Docs Tab and select 2010-03-05 U.S. Geological Survey to evaluate the proposed Jungo landfill site

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Responses

  1. What I took away at first reading is that there is not enough data available at present to make any absolute determinations as to whether the location and design are safe for the area. For instance, Lopes stated that it cannot be determined that groundwater does not have the potential to flow to Humboldt River and Rye Patch, and this is probably a good thing for landfill opponents because it may lead to better, more extensive research by an independent third party. In fact, Lopes states that contaminates will infiltrate the aquifer and he gives estimates of how far the contamination will travel over time.

    I have personally seen photographs showing that Lopes is mistaken when it comes to the floods of 83, and 97, specifically, that no water was standing on Jungo Flat during those times, and I know people who were here at the time, and say that Jungo Rd. was under water. As a matter of fact, Jungo Flat is under water right now, and it has been nowhere near as wet this year as it was back in 83 or 97. It is also obvious to anyone who has read studies on HDPE landfill liners that they are not nearly as effective in preventing leachate from entering ground water sources as advocates of the proposed dumpsite would like everyone to believe. It seems apparent that Mr. Lopes is not an expert on landfill liners. Statistics on liner failure are easy to find. However, I think this new USGS evaluation says much about Golder Associates’ unreliable claims about the proposed project not posing a threat to groundwater. See excerpt from the new USGS study:

    “Slug tests done on four monitoring wells at the proposed Jungo landfill site had K values that
    ranged from 0.26 to 0.45 ft/d and averaged 0.34 ft/d (Golder Associates, Inc., 2008, appendix D). Near the proposed Jungo landfill site, the maximum hydraulic conductivity is 50 ft/d (Berger, 1995) and the maximum hydraulic gradient is about 4 ft/mi. The porosity of basin-fill sediments ranges from about 0.1 to 0.2 (Cohen, 1963). Using these values in equation 1, estimates indicate that contaminants would travel about 0.02 mi and a maximum of 2.5 mi in 95 years. In 190 years, contaminants would travel about 0.04 mi and a maximum of 5.0 mi.”

    I have read the study by Berger, 95-4119, 1995, it is cited numerous times in Golder’s technical data submitted for state environmental permits. Berger states in his 1995 report that data existing at that time “suggests that perhaps about 1700 acre-ft/yr of groundwater exits the study area near the northern Antelope Range.” The exit area referred to by Berger is southwest of the proposed Jungo site in the direction of the groundwater flow indicated in the new USGS evaluation. I am looking at the map right now. The area mentioned by Berger where water exits the study area, and the direction of groundwater flow, are both plain to see. Ken Haskell, engineer and principle of Golder Associates, stated at a recent Humboldt Development Authority meeting, something to the effect that the aquifer is contained, and that the ground water cannot flow to the south toward Rye Patch, or escape the from the site; it had something to do with an up gradient. Mr. Haskell cites the Berger study that I quote on the first line above in this paragraph to back his claims, but now this new USGS report, which also cites Berger, seems to tell a different story. Mr. Haskell’s company has also put in writing contradictory information about prominent wind direction in Desert Valley. I believe that Mr. Haskell would say just about anything to advance Recology’s project, including that the landfill liner will last 500 years.

    It should be interesting to see what develops as more folks who are interested in the technical issues involved with the proposed dump read this new study and compare to what Recology has put in its state permit applications.

    Thanks Nevadans Against Garbage for providing a great forum for folks to discuss and learn about the proposed dump project.


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