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Published: Thursday, 11/13/2003

MSU team says chemicals leaking at Oregon landfill

Dangerous contaminants are leaking from the hazardous waste landfill on Otter Creek Road in Oregon, researchers from Michigan State University said last night during a public meeting.

Dr. Shu-Guang Li, an associate professor at the university, used three-dimensional renderings of the Envirosafe Services of Ohio, Inc., landfill to show where synthetic and organic chemicals, along with heavy metals, have moved downward from hazardous waste pits into the upper and lower tills - which are layers of earth below the dump and above the bedrock.

“The landfill is leaking pretty badly, especially in some areas,” Dr. Li said. “The contamination is spreading, and it s moving from the upper till to the lower till.”

The Technical Outreach Services for Communities program at Michigan State used data provided by Envirosafe to the Ohio and U.S. environmental protection agencies to develop their model. There is no evidence that contaminants have moved into the bedrock aquifer, which could be a source of drinking water, but Dr. Li said that was a likely possibility.

“We have quite a deal of lower till contamination ... very close to the bedrock,” Dr. Li said.

Concentrations of N-Nitrosodi-n-butylamine, toluene, dieldrin, and polychlorinated biphenyls, 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 and low levels of other heavy metals, were detected in the lower till.

The presentation, which was observed by about 40 people at the University of Toledo Lake Erie Center, showed that contamination is present in very high levels near the facility s boundary and in close proximity to the city of Toledo s water lines, which run between hazardous waste pits of the landfill.

“If they reach the bedrock, where the groundwater is, you have a migration pathway for the contaminants to move off the site, through the bedrock,” said Kirk Riley, also with Michigan State. “If there is a rupture in the water lines, the resulting flooding of that area would create transfer of contaminants offsite.”

Envirosafe President Doug Roberts said the researchers are speculating about the movement of chemicals and metals.

“We disagree with their determination. There is not movement between the tills,” Mr. Roberts said.

Envirosafe bought the former Fondessy Enterprises landfill in 1983. 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.

The U.S. and Ohio environmental protection agencies released a report last month of about 600 samples taken from the facility. The Michigan State TOSC used that data to create its model.

The 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 landfill s waste pits.

Oregon Mayor Marge Brown, who was at last night s meeting, said the city is working on ways to clean up the site.

“We ve been discussing this for 16 years, and we are still battling them,” Mayor Brown said.



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