King George News

Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at

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Landfill smell: It will get worse before it gets better

Someone is keeping residents informed about ongoing work at the King George landfill—an  engineer with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

 In his most recent e–mail to residents who live near the landfill, James LaFratta, an air compliance engineer in Woodbridge, talked about the latest efforts by Waste Management to control the foul smell emanating from the landfill.

Extremely high amounts of a sulfur compound  called hydrogen sulfide have been found there. The compound came from waste generated from a coal-fired power plant in Alexandria. The King George landfill stopped accepting the waste when it learned that the ash was causing a smell—similar to rotten eggs—as it mixed with other waste and moisture.  But because there’s an estimated 211,000 tons of the ash at the landfill, it’s going to take a while for the smell to go away.

Currently, Waste Management is in the process of putting a large cap—basically a giant Hefty bag—over the most offensive area. In the process, workers are disturbing trash and probably generating more smell than if the site were left alone, LaFratta said.

But if the weather holds out, Waste Management should complete the project by mid- to late-February, LaFratta told citizens in the e–mail.

Gary Carrer, one of the most outspoken residents about problems at the landfill, thanked DEQ for the update and wondered what would come next, if the smell still didn’t go away.

“Given Waste Management’s new and latest deadline, shall the citizens of King George County, come March, look forward to be free from any odors from [the landfill]?” Carrer wrote in an e–mail. “And if not, what then?  Is there some legal recourse you reserve to levy  heavy fines upon Waste Management?”