Valleycrest landfill cleanup complete decades later, could become solar farm

Site in northeast Dayton was on U.S. EPA’s Superfund list, took tens of millions of dollars to remediate

A former industrial landfill in Old North Dayton that’s on the U.S. EPA’s list of the nation’s most polluted and contaminated sites has been cleaned up and a long-term “remedy” for the property was completed this month, officials announced Wednesday.

After decades of studies, investigation, litigation and environmental remediation, the 102-acre Valleycrest Landfill has been capped and can be redeveloped. The site is a mile northeast of Dayton Children’s Hospital, between Valley Street and Brandt Pike along the Dayton-Riverside border.

Local residents and other community members say they believe the site could be a good place to put a solar farm.

“From our neighborhood standpoint, this is an important marker — it’s not the end, it’s not the completion, it’s a continuation because the site will be here for generations to come and we look forward to ... trying to develop plans for an eventual reuse,” said Matt Tepper, president of the Old North Dayton Neighborhood Association.



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed Valleycrest landfill on its Superfund list nearly 30 years ago. The list identifies the nation’s most polluted and hazardous sites.

Landfilling activities at the property in the 1960s and 1970s contaminated the soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals, and many fires occurred at the site.

The EPA took emergency action in the late 1990s when more than 43,000 industrial drums were discovered at the former dump, some containing hazardous waste.

The agency removed the drums and contaminated soil, and a landfill gas abatement system was installed.



More than half of the property was used as a landfill for industrial and municipal wastes, which went into unlined, former gravel pits, the EPA said.

Some of the parties that dumped waste at the site provided tens of millions of dollars to help pay for an investigation and assessment of the site, removal of the drums and other costs.

Then, in late 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio approved a consent decree that required some of the “responsible parties” to complete a $35 million cleanup of the Valleycrest property.

There was a long list of responsible parties that engaged in dumping at the site, including General Motors, NCR Corp. and Waste Management, to name just a few. They provided funding to build a remedy and pay for its long-term management and maintenance.



After consulting with community members and site stakeholders, EPA selected a remedy to clean up the site in 2014 and completed a design for it in 2022, said Jennifer Elkins, branch manager in the U.S. EPA’s Superfund remedial program.

Last year, construction began on a cap for the landfill and a system to collect landfill gas and shallow groundwater, she said.

The project wrapped up this month.

“What was once a landfill filled with waste is now a grassy field,” she said.

Federal, state and local governments worked for decades with private companies to figure out a remediation solution for the landfill, said Bonnie Buthker, chief community officer for the southwest district office of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

This project protects the health of the surrounding community and the vital underground aquifer, which is a sole-source water supply for the region, she said.

Thousands of people live near Valleycrest landfill, and the property sits between drinking water wellfields.

“I can assure the residents and workers in this area that you can live and work near this site without worrying about the potential health effects of things that were buried here,” Buthker said. “Your aquifer also is protected.”

Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph said getting to this point took decades of hard work and partnerships.

“This is a huge step forward for this neighborhood and for this city,” he said.



The parties that built the remedy must maintain it under U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA oversight, meaning they must continue to perform leachate collection and landfill gas testing and mow the grass, said Dion Novak, remedial project manager of the U.S. EPA Superfund division.

There’s still waste underground, but it’s contained by the cap and collection system, Novak said.

The site has extraction wells that collect landfill gas and shallow groundwater that are then disposed.

Groundwater monitoring will be ongoing to ensure water from the site does not travel beyond its boundaries or get into the aquifer, officials said.

The city is exploring the possibility of installing solar panels on the site, said Meg Maloney, Dayton’s sustainability manager.

“We’re currently still in a planning phase, but we’re optimistic about the opportunity of putting solar on the site,” she said.

Community members have indicated that solar is one of their top redevelopment preferences for the site, officials said.

Officials said the site can’t be used for housing or commercial projects that require foundations and digging into the ground. Even tree roots could harm the cap and the remediation equipment.

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