gets ready for dump expansion
Envirosafe plan is a nonstarter for foes
By Ignazio Messina
Oregon officials and environmentalists are expecting plenty
of public support in their opposition to expansion of
the hazardous waste landfill in the city.
Doug Roberts, president of Envirosafe Services of Ohio,
Inc., had expected to submit a permit modification request
to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency by the end
of December, but he has postponed the process.
Among the plans being considered by the company are increasing
the capacity of its active landfill cell south of York
Street, commonly called Cell M, or digging an entirely
new landfill pit on an adjacent 50 acres the company owns.
"We are not really sure when we are going to submit
it, but I do not think weíre making that determination
by the end of the year," Mr. Roberts said. "Obviously
people are concerned about anything about Envirosafe,
but we are a valuable employer, and we are going to try
and alleviate any concerns."
At the current rate of waste disposal, Cell M will be
full in four to six years, Mr. Roberts said. Increasing
its height by 70 feet would add several more years to
Oregon Mayor Marge Brown said the landfill operator can
expect strong opposition from the city.
"We said to them, ĎDonít expect just to do what
you want to do without a fight,í" Mayor Brown said.
"We are going to fight them because I have to protect
After making a permit modification request, legally required
public meetings would be held, which Mayor Brown said
likely would attract Envirosafe protesters.
Councilman James Seaman agreed.
"It doesnít make good sense to allow any kind of
expansion," he said. "Iím concerned about the
shortcomings of the landfill and Iím concerned about the
leakage and contamination to the bottom layers of the
soil and the aquifer."
Last month, researchers from Michigan State University
announced that dangerous contaminants were leaking from
the landfill. The Technical Outreach Services for Communities
program at Michigan State used three-dimensional renderings
of the landfill to show where synthetic and organic chemicals,
along with heavy metals, have moved downward from its
older waste pits into the upper and lower tills - the
two layers of earth below the dump and above the bedrock.
Concentrations of several chemicals were found in very
high levels in the upper till. The level of bis(2-Ethylhexyl)phthalate,
which is used in the production of polyvinyl chloride,
was detected in the upper till at 9,800 times the maximum
contamination level - the maximum permissible level of
a contaminant in water delivered to any user of a public
system. High levels of lead and cyanide, along with low
levels of other heavy metals, were detected in the lower
After the Michigan State groupís presentation, the Lucas
County Health Department began surveying 49 wells near
"When the TOSC report came out, we got really interested,"
said Mike Oricko, director of environmental health for
the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department. "If there
was a risk of contamination to the aquifer or the groundwater,
thatís what we would want to know about, but at this point
in time it doesnít appear that there is any contamination."
Judy Junga, an East Toledo resident who has campaigned
against the dump for years, doesnít think the EPA should
allow any expansion.
"They should have never put hazardous waste near
water lines and streams that run into Lake Erie,"
Mrs. Junga said. "As soon as I read that they found
contamination in that lower till, that got my attention
because over all these years, they said that there was
no way those contaminants would ever get into the lower
Contamination also was found in very high levels near
the facilityís boundary and close to the city of Toledoís
water lines, which run between hazardous waste pits of
There is no evidence that contaminants have moved into
the bedrock aquifer, which could be a source of drinking
Envirosafe bought the former Fondessy Enterprises landfill
in 1983. Most of the waste buried in the facilityís active
cell is electric arc furnace dust from air-pollution devices
at steel mills.
Fondessy began burying waste at the site in 1954. Many
of the higher levels of contamination were detected in
the tills below waste pits that are no longer in use.
In 2000, Envirosafe was ordered to begin testing the
soil and groundwater in and around the dormant Fondessy
landfills. A second phase of the study into Envirosafe
is expected to be done in 2005 and will include more testing
and a closer examination of five of the landfillís waste
"We could construct a new landfill, which would
be a state-of-the-art landfill," Mr. Roberts said.
"The other areas, the old Fondessy landfills, are
where we are doing all the investigating. We never operated
those but we had to take responsibility for them because
we own the property."
Lynn Ackerson, an Ohio EPA project manager, said the
suspect waste pits predate modern landfill regulations
and lack leachate collection systems or modern liners.