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Great Lakes Article:

Opposition gets ready for dump expansion
Envirosafe plan is a nonstarter for foes
By Ignazio Messina
Toledo Blade
12/23/03


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 its use.

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 the citizens."

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 till.

After the Michigan State groupís presentation, the Lucas County Health Department began surveying 49 wells near the landfill.

"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 till."

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 the landfill.

There is no evidence that contaminants have moved into the bedrock aquifer, which could be a source of drinking water.

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 pits.

"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.

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