Last month the Hannibal City Council approved a settlement agreement with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and state Attorney General regarding water quality violations at the city's former landfill. But the settlement, which includes a fine of over $18,000, isn't the final chapter of this saga.

Last month the Hannibal City Council approved a settlement agreement with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and state Attorney General regarding water quality violations at the city’s former landfill. But the settlement, which includes a fine of over $18,000, isn’t the final chapter of this saga.

“They (Department of Natural Resources) want us to hire a professional engineer to do a full site analysis of the landfill and recommend improvements to it,” said City Manager Jeff LaGarce.

On Tuesday night the Council approved a $17,000 contract with Poepping, Stone, Bach and Associates to perform the engineering work.

“It doesn’t sound like it would cost that much, but it has to be a full engineering assessment to DNR standards,” said LaGarce, which he noted is a non-budgeted expense.

While the cost to implement the engineer’s recommendations is at this point unknown, LaGarce estimates it will be in the neighborhood of $40,000 to $50,000.

“They’re going to give us 180 days to make whatever improvement the consulting engineer deems to meet DNR’s structural integrity for the landfill structure,” said LaGarce.

According to the city manager, what the city is now required to do “are things the Department of Natural Resources has determined we need to do anyway, above and beyond any settlement agreement.”

Landfill headaches

The city’s old landfill, which has been closed for approximately 25 years, has been a source of woe in recent years. In November 2009 and February 2014 the city was cited by DNR for leachate basin overspill. (A leachate is any liquid that, in the course of passing through matter, extracts soluble or suspended solids, or any other component of the material through which it has passed.)

“Both events were 100 percent storm-related, and neither situation could have been prevented without violating DNR standards for aerating,” wrote LaGarce in a memo to the Council last month.

According to LaGarce, in July 2014 DNR personnel “accidentally mislead” the city about leachate testing provisions.

“DNR’s Water Quality Division instructed the city to test leachate annually for hazardous materials. DNR’s Transportation Division recently overruled the Water Quality Division, and placed new testing provisions on the city. Unfortunately, these provisions would be required anyway, with or without any settlement agreement,” wrote LaGarce last month.

LaGarce says the new sampling provision will cost the city $10,570 in its initial year and roughly $1,510 each year thereafter, provided no hazardous waste is detected.

As a result of the violations in 2009 and 2014 the city initially faced a total fine of $64,000. However, because the city was willing to undertake some local environmental projects, the fine was reduced to $18,333. The projects include:

• Creation of a natural grasslands experience near Delaney Park - $45,040.

• Purchase of recyclable-material picnic tables - $24,000.

• A Bear Creek cleanup day, which was undertaken Thursday by Board of Public Works volunteers - $8,054.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com .