A proposal to expand the Lorton landfill by 555 acres, tripling the size of the facility, has provoked nearby residents, prompting Fairfax County Supervisor Gerald Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) to get a postponement of a mid-July Planning Commission hearing.

Residents of Lorton and Mason Neck who live near the landfill say they are furious with county officials over the proposal. At a public meeting sponsored June 11 by the Federation of Lorton Communities, which represents 25 neighborhoods, many residents said the county did not give them any notice of the planned landfill expansion.

"People are very upset and a lot of it is because the county has not notified area residents about the expansion," said Rebecca Williams, president of the federation.

Some of the expanded area would come within 500 feet of back yards of houses in the Shirley Acres subdivision, Williams said. " . . . We still don't know enough about the " . . . We still don't know enough about the environmental impact and the traffic impact . . . . "

-- Rebecca Williams

environmental impact and the traffic impact of the proposed expansion," she said.

Hyland, who represents the Lorton area, said he is concerned about the neighbors' complaints and has asked for a postponement of the mid-July Planning Commission public hearing on the expansion to give residents more time to review the proposal, and to have the county answer some of the residents' questions about traffic and environmental impacts.

The public hearing has been rescheduled for September. After the hearing, the Planning Commission will vote on whether to support or deny the proposal. That would be the final action on the matter, unless the decision is appealed to the Board of Supervisors, which Hyland sees as likely.

"For an issue like this, I would anticipate we will have an appeal," Hyland said.

Hyland said no residents who own property that abuts the proposed expansion area have complained that they have not received proper notification from the county.

"If any landowner abutting the property has not received proper {county} notice, that is of great concern to me, and if that's the case, I will see to it that they receive proper notice," Hyland said.

All of the proposed expansion would be on land currently occupied by the District's Lorton Correctional Complex, which abuts the 300-acre landfill.

The landfill opened 18 years ago, and experts predict the space for trash will be full by 1994. The portion of the landfill for ash, the residue from incinerated trash, will be full by 2010 or 2012, according to Joyce Doughty, director of the Division of Solid Waste Disposal and Resource Recovery in the Fairfax County Department of Public Works.

According to Doughty, "the landfill has historically been receiving 55 tons" of waste per day, with about 57 percent of the waste coming from Fairfax County (including Vienna, Herndon and Falls Church), 40 percent from the District of Columbia, and the remainder from Arlington County and Alexandria.

The proposal to expand the landfill was drafted in a signed agreement between Fairfax County and District officials in 1987. Roughly 275 acres of the complex are used for landfill and the remaining 25 acres serve as a buffer and for roads and administrative offices. If it is expanded by the proposed 555 acres, bringing the landfill to a total of 855 acres, there will still be roughly the same percentage of buffer space, Doughty said.

Of the current 300 acres, Doughty said, 25 acres are used for a 300-ton-per-day energy resource recovery program, where solid waste is burned and the heat generated drives two giant turbine engines. The electricity produced from the engines is sold to Virginia Power.

Besides the 200 acres used for raw materials landfill, and the 25-acre resource recovery program, roughly 50 acres are used as an ash landfill. Much of the ash comes from the Arlington-Alexandria Waste-To-Energy plant, in Alexandria.

Residents who live near the landfill say they are concerned about long-term leakage from it. Engineers have designed a heavy-duty lining to keep toxic materials from leaking into nearby water supplies.

"Sure, {county officials} say they're going to use this super lining, but how long does that lining work," Williams said. "Residents of Shirley Acres were affected several years ago by methane gas from the present landfill. We need to know more about the quality of water and the traffic impact of this proposal."

Hyland is concerned about the added traffic from trucks bringing trash to the landfill if it is expanded. "I think we need . . . to keep those trucks off local roads," he said. Hyland added that consultants hired by the county to study the proposed landfill expansion were not asked to look at traffic impact.

The consultants, Post, Buckley Schuh & Jerinigan Inc., are preparing a traffic impact study at Hyland's request. An environmental impact assessment being prepared by the county and its consultant is expected to be released by the end of August.

"The citizens are concerned from a policy standpoint that we have the incinerator that has been built on the site, and on one hand they don't understand why we spent a large sum of money to build the mass burn facility, and on the other hand we're asking to expand the landfill," Hyland said. "The citizens find that to be inconsistent."