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Expansion of ACUA Landfill Continues

Jun 24, 2021

ACUA’s landfill expansion project has entered phase two of construction. The expansion is completed through the construction of mechanically stabilized earthen (MSE) berms.

A MSE berm is a structure that wraps around the exterior of a landfill. The space between the newly constructed berm and the slope of the existing landfill is used to store additional solid waste.

ACUA is permitted to build three berms that will extend 5,200 linear feet in total. Phase one of this project was completed in April 2020 and is now in use. The second phase, currently in construction, will add approximately 2,000 linear feet and is expected to be completed in April 2022. Phase three will go out to bid for construction at a later time.

A Closer Look at the MSE Berm

The MSE berm is made with layers of compacted soil and geogrids. The exterior face of each layer is bound together with straw netting, a polyester geogrid and reinforced steel.

Phase two of the structure is using recycled asphalt pavement rather than traditional structural fill, which will save money while putting recycled material to good use.

Currently, the first portion of phase two has been constructed up to 36 feet tall. Final grades for this portion of the berm will result in a wall height of 52 feet once complete.

The History of ACUA’s Landfill

ACUA was designated as the regional authority to manage Atlantic County’s Solid Waste Management Plan in 1981. Prior to this, waste had been buried across unlined landfills that became a direct threat to groundwater, and our public health. In fact, several of these landfills were later designated as EPA Superfund sites.

When ACUA’s Environmental Park was opened in 1990 it was originally permitted to operate as a transfer station, where waste would come in to be processed and eventually hauled out to a landfill in another location.  Eventually, after discussion and demonstration projects, ACUA constructed its own landfill, which accepted construction and demolition debris starting in 1992 and municipal trash in 2000.

Preparing for the Future

Knowing the landfill’s useful life will eventually come to an end, ACUA has been preparing for several options to safely manage and handle Atlantic County’s waste. The MSE Wall is just one part of the comprehensive solution. Our Research and Development Department is dedicated to finding an effective alternative to landfilling. We are also exploring partnerships with our counterparts in other counties to develop a regional shared service approach. As these plans come to fruition, you can rest assured that we will “continue to use new technologies, innovations and employee ideas to provide the highest quality and most cost-effective environmental services,” as our mission statement reads.