After 80 Years, Haverhill Set to Cap City-Owned Landfill on Banks of River Near Groveland

Merrimack River-facing slope of Old Groveland Road, Haverhill, landfill. (Environmental Protection Agency photograph.)

Haverhill’s more than 80-year-old former landfill, designated as an environmental Superfund site, is set to be capped at a cost of about $8 million.

The Haverhill City Council last week agreed to borrow nearly $8 million to pay the city’s share of capping the so-called northern mound of the Old Groveland Road Landfill. Interim Public Works Director Robert E. Ward provided councilors with a bit of background on the property.

“The landfill operated as a municipal landfill from around the 1930s to roughly 1981. The landfill took the Haverhill Wastewater Treatment Plant sludge from about 1981 to 1996. In 1996, it actually ceased operations,” he noted.

The landfill, which is co-owned by the city and Aggregate Industries-Northeast Region, also accepted beater waste from the former Haverhill Paperboard. It is located near on the Merrimack River and on Groveland border.

Bruce Haskell from Langdon Environmental of Portsmouth, N.H., explained the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has required all landfills in operation after 1971 to be capped once they are closed. Capping keeps rainwater from leeching chemicals out of the buried trash.

In 2013, the 35-acre southern mound was capped. The current schedule calls for work on the 17-acre northern section to begin next summer and will take about two years to complete. Haskell said, because the northern mound extends to the Merrimack River, work beyond capping is required.

“Restore just under a half a mile of riverfront area and that includes peeling all that waste back to get it to a stable slope, rip-rapping up the side slopes to get it to a certain elevation to, essentially, what is known as the 100-year flood plain,” he said.

When the work is finally completed, Ward told councilors, the way it overlooks the river could provide a beautiful recreational area and possibly connect to the proposed rail trail.

The city’s share of the project is eligible for a low-interest loan and principal forgiveness from the State Revolving Fund. That would provide a 1.5% interest rate with a principal forgiveness grant of 6.6% or just over $500,000.

The council approved the loan order.

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