Clean-up of toxic landfill enters final phases

Superfund is the name given to the environmental program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites. It is also the name of the fund established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980. The law was enacted following the discovery of toxic waste dumps such as Love Canal and Times Beach in the 1970s. It allows the EPA to clean up such sites and to compel responsible parties to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for those cleanups.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The end is in sight for the decades-long clean-up of the Valleycrest Landfill in Old North Dayton.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it wants to finish up work at the 102-acre Superfund site some time in 2016.

The landfill sits above the Great Miami Aquifer, which is the source of water for most of Montgomery County residents. When the landfill operated, the EPA said, it took in industrial waste including used oil, solvents, scrap paint, lampblack, electrical transformers, brake grindings - including asbestos - and sewage.

The cost of the final phase of the clean-up is estimated to be $36.8 million. That cleanup would be funded by the companies responsible for depositing waste there when the site operated as a landfill, said Dion Novak, EPA’s remedial project manager.

The companies include General Motors, NCR Corp. and Waste Management. The EPA will spend much of 2013 negotiating with them toward a legally-binding consent decree that would spell out details for funding the final phase.

Site boundaries are Brandt Pike on the west, the Dayton city line to the north, Valley Street on the east and St. Adalbert Church on the south.

The last leg of the Valleycrest clean up comes after extensive work at the site. From 1998 through 2004, the EPA hauled away nearly 43,000 drums and containers of hazardous waste and excavated more than 65,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and waste material. There are 2.5 million cubic yards of waste here still, EPA said.

The waste remaining at the site includes substances that have leached into the soil, landfill gas, and hard-to-remove hazardous materials that have a tar-like consistency, the EPA said. It characterized the waste as “volatile organics, semi-volatile organics, inorganics and radionuclides.”

The final stage of the project will likely include constructing a cap of soil and other material to prevent rainwater from seeping below 70 acres of the site. It will also involve sinking new wells around the perimeter to pump out liquid contaminants that threaten to seep off-site, according to EPA’s action plan.

The federal agency is receiving public comment on its proposal until Sept. 10, and could alter plans based on the input.

Although they’re looking forward to the cleanup being completed, neighbors want the EPA to go beyond the proposal and excavate all remaining waste from the site, said Emilee George, chairwoman for the Environmental Committee of the Old North Dayton Association.

“We have various issues with what they propose,” George said Tuesday. “We want them to remove the waste, dig it up and properly store it. The landfill has no bottom and no sides.” She said reuse of the land is problematic with what the EPA is proposing.

An enivronmental scientist and consultant hired by the neighborhood group, Henry Cole, urged EPA to remove more solid waste below the water table and take additional steps to control potentially explosive gasses that could travel outside the disposal areas.

The wells, which would operate at least 30 years, would remove liquid waste that EPA intends to convey to the city’s wastewater system for final treatment.

The wells should pump out contaminated groundwater that has moved off-site in some areas, Novak said.

No homes in the area use well water now, EPA said. They are connected to the city’s drinking water system.

For more public information on Valleycrest, see:

About the Author