Landfills built to withstand earthquake tremors

LOWELLVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) — Several people reported damage after Monday’s five earthquakes in Lowellville, including cracked sidewalks and broken windows.

Earthquakes reported in Lowellville

The damage got our news staff wondering: If there can be that much damage to a home from an earthquake so small, what about damage to the landfill that was near the epicenter?

Officials at the Carbon Limestone Landfill said an earthquake does not really do much damage to a landfill because a landfill is always moving anyway. The trash is always shifting and compacting and is built to withstand that movement, as well as seismic activity.

“In general, all landfills in Ohio are designed to withstand earthquakes that could happen in Ohio. They do seismic calculations when they are developing a permit that are designed to consider slope stability,” said Linda Oros with the Ohio EPA.

“It’s safe. We have a lot of safeguards in place to protect, to make sure nothing happens. And we’ll be here for a long time. Thirty years after it closes, we’ll still be here,” said Michael Heher, division manager for the landfill.

Those safeguards include layers and layers of liners that are flexible enough to move with the earth, plus a moat system that protects nearby water sources from any contamination.

“These are pretty flexible liner systems. The other thing is that we have 72 groundwater monitoring wells that we continually check water levels on to make sure there has been no problem with anything coming out,” Heher said.

The EPA has asked the Mahoning County Health District to do a visual survey of the cap at Carbon Limestone, but officials do not anticipate any problems.

And if anyone did have damage from Monday’s earthquakes, chances are the damage is not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Most policies do not cover earthquake damage, but it can be added on to a policy.

Earthquake insurance usually costs between $100 and $400 a year for an average home, but the deductible ranges from 5 to 10 percent. That means it’s really only good if the damage is catastrophic.

Broken windows would still come out of pocket.

“I’ve been writing insurance policies for 21 years in Ohio and I have not had one earthquake related claim that I can recall in those 21 years,” said Shaun Sommers of Sommers Insurance.


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