COPPERAS COVE - A 12-acre portion of an old municipal landfill will have to be moved as part of the U.S. Highway 190 South bypass project.
"It is not unusual to have a situation like this, but it is not one of those that we run into frequently," said Ken Roberts, spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation.
A contractor will move nearly 12 acres of the 37-acre landfill, which according to an inventory conducted by the Central Council of Governments, hasn't been used since 1982.
The city purchased the site in 1957, but the inventory didn't state how long the site was used to store garbage.
Roberts said obstacles such as a landfill are common when TxDOT is building a road with a new footprint.
The bypass, more than five miles long, is being constructed around the southern portion of the city and will cross over Farm-to-Market 116 in the area of the landfill.
For the remediation, contractors will move the segment of the landfill in the highway's right of way and place it on top of the remaining portion of the closed facility.
"The entire landfill is not being removed," said Roberts. "We are cutting through it. The debris that we are cutting through will be placed in the remaining landfill area."
Roberts said the remediation shouldn't be a risk to the environment or to the facility's neighbors.
"We took some core samples of the area, and we didn't find anything in any of the cores that led us to believe that there is anything bad in it," said Darin Poe, a engineer for TxDOT.
Roberts said garbage was found about 14 feet into the landfill, but nothing hazardous was found in the samples. The area the contractor is moving is the portion farthest away from neighborhoods.
TxDOT has been working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which provides oversight of abandoned landfill remediation and construction projects, and environmental contractor HDR of McKinney to ensure the move is successful with no risks of danger.
"We don't want to be surprised, but at the same time, we are going to move very carefully in the event that there is something there that we weren't aware of," said Roberts.
When someone is moving a landfill or building on the site of an abandoned landfill, TCEQ requires that entity to get authorization before starting the project, said Jeff Holderread, a professional engineer with TCEQ.
"Basically, we are concerned with how they are going to handle the waste and what they are going to do with it," said Holderread.
Holderread said TxDOT's plan to move the waste is one typical solution while some people just build right on top of the site despite waste being buried below the ground.
"(Landfill) authorizations are quite common," he said. "There are a lot of old landfills in the state of Texas."
Holderread said because the landfill was operated by the city, it probably contains mostly household waste and not potentiality dangerous materials.
Roberts said anything discovered that could be dangerous or shouldn't be replaced in a landfill by today's standards would be disposed of properly.
Roberts said extracting the site could take up to 70 days.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.