Portsmouth Councilor complains to RIDEM over IP landfill

Landfill site worker power washing truck tires, 8:15am April 8, 2013.

Responding to "a Portsmouth resident," freshman Town Council member David Gleason filed a complaint on March 19 with the RI Dept. of Environmental Management (RIDEM) over activities at the Island Park landfill capping site where, he alleged, "contaminated dirt is blown around in a violent dust cloud," according to a copy of his e-mail posted on RIDEM's Portsmouth Town Dump Bulletin Board.

Here's Gleason's complaint:

I received a call this morning from a Portsmouth resident concerning the proliferation of airborne contaminated soil on Park Ave and Boyd's Lane in Portsmouth, RI. from trucks leaving the site of the "old Portsmouth dump site" which is being filled by or for Palmer Industries. In seeing this for myself today, there was also a police officer there today that took several photos confirming the tracking of large amounts of mud on, what I think are state owned roads. In addition, another resident filmed the conditions there yesterday as the dry, contaminated dirt is blown around in a violent dust cloud. No resident of any part of RI should have this occurring in their neighborhood and with the only two people in DEM's compliance division unavailable to speak with today, I am sending this email.

While we in Portsmouth may not be able to change the situation that DEM is allowing here where contaminants are being brought in to cover this dump site, we can ask that the terms of the BUD(?) be adhered to. Allowing this much contaminated soil onto the roadways and into the air of our neighborhoods is unacceptable if not illegal. Please look into this matter at your earliest convenience! In passing on the citizen's observations, gravity feeding water from a tank into a puddle (of contaminated mud) to "clean" the truck tires leaving the site does not work. He suggested a gas powered pressure washer to clean the tires as a possible solution which I would agree with.

It has also been suggested to me that contaminated soil is being used as "cover" on contaminated fill. This too should be investigated by DEM. Perhaps we all have become too complacent at this site and it requires more oversight by DEM for our resident's safety and health. Thanks in advance for your remedies to this situation. David Gleason Portsmouth RI resident and Councilman (401-524-7660).

Let's just notice Gleason's language for a moment. "Proliferation of airborne contaminated soil," "contaminated dirt," "contaminants being brought in," "contaminated mud," and, finally, alleging that "contaminated soil is being used as 'cover' on contaminated fill."

And here's the RIDEM response:

A Department Engineer inspected the site on Friday March 22, 2013. In his inspection, he made note of two issues, a significant amount of mud on the road and the street sweeper was creating a dust issue when cleaning the road by not applying enough water during the process. The Site Operator who was present agreed to the following remedial measures:

  • Installing a power wash for vehicles prior to exit
  • Improving the street sweeping operation
  • Replacement of stone at the entrance.
  • On Tuesday, March 26, 2013 two DEM inspectors revisited the site. They found the three measure described had been implemented. They also observed that there was not a noticeable buildup of soil in the street. Trucks were not present at the time of inspection although earth moving equipment was operating at the site. At the time, the soil being managed was relatively wet and a dust problem was not observed.

    Sampling results were requested and received for the soils that were being managed onsite. The Project Manager (David Peter) indicated that one of the sources met residential standards while the other two met commercial/industrial standards as required by the BUD. The Department has requested and is reviewing the sampling results.

    Reached for comment by harddeadlines, Mark Dennen, RIDEM's Principal Environmental Scientist, noted that they had taken action as soon as the complaint was filed. "We made APE [Arthur Palmer Enterprise] aware of the complaint the day it was received (3/19/2013)," said Dennen. "A RIDEM inspector visited the site on 3/22/2013 and made suggestions to address the issue. On Monday (3/25/2013), APE sent us photographs to show that they had instituted the recommendations. On Tuesday 3/26/2013, a site inspection by the Department confirmed the issues had been addressed."

    This morning, when this reporter passed the landfill (two blocks from my home) I snapped the picture above of a site worker washing mud off the tires of one of the soil delivery trucks, and personally observed from the condition of Park Avenue that the process seems pretty effective.

    What about all that "contamination?" Said Dennen, "[T]he Department requested analytical data for the material involved. We received and posted over 500 pages of analytical data for this material. The sampling results show that the material involved all met the criteria in the BUD."

    Dennen's laconic summary: "What we observed was a nuisance created by the mud on the road."

    Took me a while to post this because I had to go through the entire 535 pages of soil analysis. And unless you believe that testing labs are faking results, that licensed professionals are signing off on fabricated documents, and that everyone is willing to risk their reputations and livelihood in an intricate, wide-spread coverup, then the collective weight of the evidence does not support the descriptions of contamination offered by Mr. Gleason. While no match for the RIDEM-bashing of prior Town Council President Joe Robicheau, newbie David Gleason, appears, to this reporter, willing to take up the cause of the anti-arsenic crusaders. The torch (and pitchfork) have been passed to a new generation.

    Links: Sampling results (13mb pdf), March 28 RIDEM Field Investigation Report (687k PDF).

    Full disclosure: I live in Island Park, two blocks from the landfill site.


    Just thought you might like to know that arsenic, which turns about to be just about everywhere there are growing things, is found in many foods. Apple and Grape juice have been of some concern. In the realm of solid foods, it turns out that one of the highest arsenic-containing foods is chocolate. So maybe we should avoid chocolate. On the other hand, chocolate is full of "anti-oxidants" (and I hate it when I suffer from over-oxidation). Plus, I heard that "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" so maybe the people of Island Park should toughen up by eating chocolate. Just a thought.