It is hard to tell exactly, but it appears there are 24 layers of baskets. Presumably each is 18” high as proposed by ESI. Therefore, this wall is approximately 36’ high or roughly half of what ESI has proposed, which is 70’ +/- and it will be over 2 miles long.

Furthermore, The proposed 70’ high wall is to have a 50’ setback from the RPA. The rise from the toe of the wall to the very top of the landfill will be approximately 340’ rise. (from 72 ft. above sea level to 412 ft.) This is 6.8 times the proposed setback.

ESI has proposed to expand the landfill by building a 70 ft. high Reinforced Earth Retaining Wall and then pack debris on top of the existing fill at least 70 feet deep. (We can’t figure out how deep because their plans do not show the final elevations for the contours of the landfill in 2040. This also means that we can’t compute the total “Air Space” volume of the new expanded landfill.) This wall will be approximately 11,600 feet long and completely surround the existing landfill site. That is 2.2 miles long!

So What’s Wrong with a 2 Mile long Retaining Wall?

A Closed Landfill is a liability in perpetuity, but there is no such thing as a perpetual wall – The risk is that a catastrophic rainstorm like Hurricane Agnes would saturate the slopes of the landfill and cause a wall failure or even just a landslide over top of the wall that could run hundreds of feet into the RPA and Giles Run. Read about the ESI landfill landslide in Kentucky.

Engineering Design is one thing, but construction is another – Even the best plans in the world have to be constructed by people in the field. And those people have every incentive to cut costs and take shortcuts to completion. It is a truism in the sitework business that the contractors can bury their mistakes – literally.

The State Supervises this permit, should it be granted – the Northern Region of the Department of Environmental Quality, (DEQ), has 2 inspectors in the Solid Waste Division and they have to cover 14 counties. The state Doesn’t have the resources to make sure it is properly constructed.

Even Worse – the state DEQ has no policy about the construction of retaining walls for landfills – There is only one such landfill wall in the state so far and it is in Petersburg. It was built using coal ash as the primary material and it was about 30’ high and far shorter. To date, they have not assessed the increased risks and liabilities associated with landfill retaining walls and the proper sureties for a man-made structure holding back millions of tons of debris.

Even Worse Still – the DEQ fund that covers catastrophic events like a landfill landslide is only about $10,000,000 today – If, when and as this wall should fail, or a slide overtop the wall should occur, the damage and repairs required would far exceed the sum total of the fund today.

And the absolute worst part – because we don’t have any insight into the financial structure of the applicant, Furnace Associates Inc., we have no idea about the financial wherewithal of the company. Read: What we know about the applicant. We do know from the affidavit filed with the County that Furnace Associates Inc, is owned by ESI Real Property Holdings, Inc., which in turn is owned by EnviroSolutions Holdings, Inc. located in Manassas VA, the owners of which appear to be a group of Wall Street venture funds or hedge funds. Check this out here. We have to assume that since Furnace Associates Inc, is the sole applicant and most likely the sole source of surety with the County and the State, that it is structured to be very lean in terms of assets outside of the real estate. (We invite Furnace Associates and ESI to provide the true picture as to assets, liabilities and sureties for the applicant company and we would post it on this site in the interest of fairness.)