Landfill capping

RIDEM issues deadline, threatens fines in Portsmouth landfill capping

Screen Shot 2016-12-20 at 11.21.47 AM.pngThe clock is ticking for the company capping the old landfill in Island Park. Yesterday, the RI Dept. of Environmental Management issued AP Enterprise a "Notice of Intent to Enforce" for allegedly failing to complete the work in the timeframe specified in their original agreement, according to an e-mail sent to interested parties by RIDEM's Mark Dennen. Here's what Dennen said:

"[W]hen the site did not complete closure by the September 2016 deadline, it was referred to our Office of Compliance and Inspection for Enforcement Action. That Office has issued the attached action regarding the site."

The attached Notice of Intent to Enforce (NIE) demands a written response in 15 days, and requires that the capping work be completed within 180 days of receipt of the notice. It goes on to note:

"If respondent promptly and satisfactorily complies with the requirements of this NIE, then DEM may decide to forego the assessment of administrative monetary penalties. Continued non-compliance, however, will result in the issuance of a Notice of Violation and Order, which will include the assessment of an administrative penalty, which may be as high as $25,000 per violation for each and every day that violation continues to exist."

Read the full Notice of Intent to Enforce here.

02871, Localblogging, landfill, Landfill capping

Portsmouth landfill capping project enters final covering phase

The Portsmouth landfill capping project is now officially closed to any soil not meeting residential standards, according to a letter sent from RI DEM to Arthur Palmer Enterprise (APE) and released to the media this afternoon. According to the terms set forth by DEM in their original approval of the project, the only work allowed on the site now is the grading and shaping of the final cap which must be completed within the next year.

Here's what RI DEM Principal Scientist Mark Dennen said in his cover note:

The following letter was sent on Monday to APE as confirmation that the Beneficial Use Determination, allowing the site to accept alternate soils meeting industrial/commercial standards has expired. As per the original approval, the remaining cover soils at the site will need to meet residential standards. Site closure is required within 1 year.

You can download the DEM letter here.

02871, Localblogging, landfill, Landfill capping

DEM says Portsmouth dump capping now in compliance

Rhode Island's Department of Environmental Management has found that the firm conducting capping operations at Portsmouth's former town dump has cleaned up some bad soil that made its way onto the site and is now in compliance, according to a document provided to media by DEM Principal Environmental Scientist Mark Dennen. In a cover e-mail, Dennen said:

As you are aware, the Department issued a Notice of Intent to Enforce regarding a soil received from Newport that was found to be unacceptable. Since then, soil has been removed, confirmation sampling has been done and APE has agreed to do more frequent sampling. Consequently, a Letter of Compliance was issued today (attached).

As you may be aware, the Beneficial Use Determination will end on September 20, 2015. After this date, AP Enterprises will only be allowed to accept soil meeting residential criteria and will have to complete final capping, grading and seeding activities within 1 year.

In the enclosed "Letter of Compliance," Dennen outlines the remediation steps that Arthur Palmer Enterprise (APE) had taken: removing the soil, disposing of it at an approved location, accepting no additional soil from the site, reimbursing DEM for testing, and providing a plan for increasing sampling frequency to every 2,000 cubic yards.

You can read the full document here.

02871, Localblogging, landfill, Landfill capping

DEM catches bad dirt at Portsmouth landfill cap

On Monday, RI DEM released information on two recent issues with the ongoing capping project at the former Portsmouth landfill. An e-mail from RI DEM principal environmental scientist Mark Dennen included attached letters to Arthur Palmer Enterprise and their site manager which detailed two episodes where soil with greater than 7 parts per million of arsenic were identified, the remedial actions required, and in one case, the threat of fines. Here's what Dennen said in his cover e-mail:

As you may know, the Department routinely takes split samples of soils received at the former Portsmouth Town Dump to verify sample analyses done by generators.

The enclosed Notice of Intent to Enforce was issued today regarding soils from Newport that were sampled as part of a routine inspection. As explained in the Notice of Intent, our sampling found that arsenic levels were above both levels reported and criteria set forth in the BUD (40 mg/kg). As these levels are not acceptable, soils will have to be delineated and removed. The Department also reserved the right to take additional enforcement action.

Also enclosed is a letter regarding soils accepted from East Providence sampled relative to a complaint. Although arsenic levels are within allowable levels for the BUD, they were significantly higher than reported. These soils will have to be appropriately managed.

You can read the documents here:
590 Bellevue Avenue, Newport
Omega Pond Fish Ladder

02871, Localblogging, Landfill capping, landfill

DEM demands immediate action on Portsmouth landfill cap

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.12.50 AM.pngThe RI Dept. of Environmental Management has issued a response to a plea for more time from the company capping Portsmouth's former town dump, and while they have granted the request for a one-year extension, they stress that this is "final" and have required immediate action to complete the finished sections, according to documents released by DEM today.

In the letter to Arthur Palmer Enterprise, DEM Principal Environmental Scientist Mark Dennen advises APE that although they are granting the extension to the governing agreement, the Beneficial Use Determination Approval, DEM "feels it is necessary to add two conditions."

First, that there will be no further extensions "Upon its expiration on September 20, 2015, the BUDA will no longer be subject to renewal." Dennen notes that any additional request for an extension "will be considered a new application and subject to public notice and public hearing." (The significance of that sentence will not be lost on the APE team, who, like DEM, had to sit through many uncomfortable meetings at the Portsmouth Town Hall over the last few years.)

Second, DEM is requiring immediate work to bring the already completed sections of the site up to final condition with residential soil and grass cover. "Beginning on or before September 20, 2014 and ending November 30, 2014 APE shall cover and seed the eastern slope of the property that abuts residences in the area." This is a rebuke to APE, who had responded to DEM's prior request for immediate action with a proposal to begin the final cover work in six months.

Read the full DEM letter

In addition to the response, DEM also distributed a letter written by the president of the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens, Larry Fitzmorris, and a letter and petition with 58 signatures from former Town Council president Joe Robicheau. Both complain of alleged health risks and other impacts on the neighborhood and urge the DEM to reject the extension.

DEM responded with a by-now familiar correction of several misstatements which you can read here.

Editorial note: Sure seems like someone thinks they can wring another election cycle's worth of Island Park anger out of this issue. I, personally, remain unconvinced. But in the interests of full disclosure, long time readers may recall that Mr. Robicheau and I had a significant disagreement about the responsibilities of the Town in communicating with residents of our uniquely fragile neighborhood in the runup to superstorm Sandy.

02871, Localblogging, Landfill capping, landfill

Consultant, neighbors respond to DEM on Portsmouth landfill extension

Response from APE.

Two weeks ago, the RI Dept. of Environmental Management responded to a request for a time extension by the company conducting capping operations at Portsmouth's former town dump, and yesterday they released two replies, one from the firm's environmental consultant, and the other from the so-called "Landfill Committee." Both letters address DEM's additional conditions for an extension, a commitment to an end date, and immediate action on final cover for areas already capped.

The consultant, Tim O'Connor & Company, responding on behalf of Arthur Palmer Enterprise, seeks to justify the extension and offers guarantees on timing. O'Connor reiterates their contention that a "lack of active construction projects" contributed to their ability to source fill material, and expands on their assertion about uncertainty of approvals from the CRMC to address additional areas discovered at the edge of the site. "Those series of events created a lack of predictability" which, they say, "hindered Mr. Peter's [the site manager] ability to negotiate with contractors."

"With these events now behind us," the letter continues, "APE and Mr. Peter are willing to commit that the project will complete accepting impacted soils above the residential Direct Exposure Criteria within the next twelve months. It may still be necessary to accept residential soils to finish the cap after that period."

Responding to the second request by DEM, for quick action on finishing and seeding the eastern, already capped part of the site, O'Connor says, "APE understands RIDEM's concerns and proposes to continue final capping activities along the residential boundary as a stipulation of RIDEM approving the final BUDA renewal. APE will complete these capping activities within six months of RIDEM's BUDA approval."

The response from the "Landfill Committee," signed by Debra Cardoza, is a four-page reiteration of previous complaints about the site, and is copied to the Town Council and state legislators. "We will strongly encourage the Council to use this opportunity to object to a further expansion of this project that was initially presented as a one year effort. It is long past time that this deposit of contaminated soils in Island Park comes to an end."

Read the consultant response and the letter from the Landfill Committee.

02871, Localblogging, Landfill capping, landfill

DEM sets conditions for Portsmouth dump capping extension


The RI Dept. of Environmental Management (DEM) has issued new requirements for the company capping Portsmouth's former town dump, according to documents released by DEM this afternoon.

In a letter dated July 8, AP Enterprise, the firm engaged in the capping project, had requested RI DEM allow another one-year extension on the project back in July, citing delays in getting a CRMC approval and limited availability of suitable soil from construction projects. Similar arguments about the "weak economy" and lack of construction were featured in a similar request a year ago.

Today's response from DEM Principal Environmental Scientist Mark Dennen took a tougher line than the prior request, requiring a plan to address two major concerns before it will allow work to proceed. DEM said that while it recognizes the reasons AP Enterprise is struggling to complete the work, it notes

As these are not under the Department’s control, we are concerned that extending an approval based on economic factors will result in a BUD with no foreseeable conclusion and ultimately no closure. Our main concern is to minimize the impact to the surrounding neighborhood. To that end, the Department needs some assurance that work at the site will lead to a conclusion of capping activities in a reasonable time frame.

Additionally, DEM asks AP Enterprise to complete work on areas of the site which are already suitable for final covering operations.

[L]ocations in the eastern portion of the site that abut residential properties could be brought to final grade and loamed and seeded at any time. The Department believes that final capping activities should proceed as quickly as possible.

Read AP Enterprise's renewal request and DEM's response.

02871, Localblogging, Landfill capping, landfill

DEM warns Portsmouth on landfill-area development

14apr11_dem.pngAs reported last month, the RI Dept. of Environmental Management was alerted to development taking place on land adjacent to the site of the former Portsmouth landfill, currently being capped by AP Enterprise. Yesterday, they formally notified the town of their concerns in a letter sent to Town Administrator John Klimm, provided to harddeadlines by Mark Dennen of DEM.

[W]e have been informed that properties on the corner of Highland, Pine and Russell Avenues that are currently undeveloped, are being developed. As stated previously, investigations have not been done on these properties so the extent and nature of fill are not known. However, investigations on the APE property have shown exceedences of both residential and industrial/commercial standards for metals, semi-volatile organic compounds and volatile organic compounds. We do not have any reason to believe landfill material on these properties is significantly different from landfill material on the APE property.

We realize that permitting of the construction of buildings and roads is clearly within the Town’s jurisdictions, any activities on the landfill itself, or impacting previously deposited waste, will require advanced approval from the DEM Office of Waste Management before construction activities take place.

Read the full DEM letter (pdf)

02871, Localblogging, Landfill capping

DEM tweaks landfill cap plan

14mar18_dem_map.jpgThe RI Dept. of Environmental Management has made several small tweaks to the Portsmouth landfill capping plan, according to an e-mail sent this morning to interested parties by DEM Environmental Scientist Mark Dennen.

Documents in the e-mail cover adjustments to the border of the cap, reduction in the fenced area to accommodate wildlife on the salt marsh, and retaining vegetation barrier at the end nearest the Island Park playground.

In an e-mail exchange with harddeadlines, Dennen explained the changes: "The important thing here is that you want to place your cap over the actual landfill, not over an approximation of the landfill boundary. Hence, the test pitting that was done."

According to Dennen, these changes are still out for approval with the CRMC. Dennen also confirmed that despite the difference in end date for the Water Quality approval, the BUDA would still control: "Water Quality Cert, BUDA and CRMC approvals are all separate approvals. So they all have to be current to proceed." said Dennen.

Modified plan at RI DEM web site
Cap modification approval letter
Cap modification water quality certification

02871, Localblogging, landfill, Landfill capping

DEM fisks landfill cap opponents (again)

14mar15_torch.jpgOver the past three years, as a private company has been capping Island Park's former town dump, the local torch-and-pitchfork crowd has repeatedly fired off complaints at the RI Dept. of Environmental Management full of factual errors and misinformation (see previous coverage). On Friday, RIDEM responded to the latest screed from the ominously named "Landfill Committee" with a restrained and predictable fact-based spanking.

Here's a sample (black text is the complaint, red is the DEM response):

The homes on the North End of Russell Avenue (West side), are presently bordered by the cap on two sides, the West and South sides. When the cap is expanded, the homes shown on the map on the West side of Russell Avenue will be surrounded by hazardous waste on three sides by the landfill.

The Department’s regulations require that all fill material be covered and closed as the landfill was found to have exceedences of the Department’s standards for a number of contaminants. That residential properties are surrounded by this landfill speaks to how important it is to cap and close this site.

As the Department has repeatedly stated on many occasions that hazardous waste is legally defined and strictly regulated by both the United State Environmental Protection Agency and the Department’s Hazardous Waste Regulations [the most recent version became effective 2/10/2014]. The USEPA also specifically defines the term but the state rules are more stringent. The Department does not now, nor has it ever permitted hazardous waste to be accepted at the site (the original landfilling activities at the site pre-date the Department’s existence). To dump hazardous waste at this or any other unpermitted site could result in significant civil and/or criminal penalties on both a state and federal level.

The Department has required extensive sampling as well as conducting its own split sampling of material accepted at the site to ensure no hazardous waste or soils in excess of its Site Remediation standards are accepted. There is no indication that hazardous wastes were ever accepted as part of the closure activities. This data has been published on the web site and interested parties were notified.

There's also this little gem:

The property on the corner of Highland, Pine and Russell stated on the map as undeveloped, is currently being developed.

The Department was not aware that these roads were proposed for development. This is of concern because the undeveloped portions of Pine Street, Russell Avenue and perhaps Walnut Street are underlain by portions of the landfill that have not been studied or sampled. Its source is believed to be identical to landfill material on the APE property that contains hazardous materials. Construction of a road or buildings on fill material could create significant health concerns and we will contact the Town on this issue.

If I were the developers of that property, I'd certainly be thanking the "Landfill Committee" for bringing this to DEM's attention.

But hey, it's all good. Read the rest for yourself. (100k pdf)

02871, Localblogging, landfill, Landfill capping