Landfill capping

IP Landfill capping 85% complete

According to an email from RI Dept. of Environmental Management environmental scientist Mark Dennen, "85% of soils have been placed to reach the goals of the closure project" at the former Island Park landfill.

The e-mail, sent this afternoon, also included a link to all the quarterly reports filed on the project (the most recent being Q2 2013, when it was 75% complete.) Download from RIDEM (5.1mb PDF)

02871, Localblogging, landfill, Landfill capping

Portsmouth landfill firm seeks 1-year extension

Island Park landfill.

AP Enterprise, the company capping Portsmouth's Island Park landfill, has filed a request for an additional year to complete the last 20% of the project, according to documents distributed today by Mark Dennen of the RI Dept. of Environmental Management. The "Beneficial Use Determination," under which the work has been proceeding, is set to expire on September 17.

Writing for APE, environmental consultant Tim O'Connor blames the "constraints imposed by both the replacement of the Sakonnet River Bridge and the weak economy" for the slow progress: "A number of competing landfills had temporarily closed," O'Connor explained, which had provided a stream of material. "The competing landfills are back open and Boston soil cannot be economically shipped to Portsmouth at this time."

Also, O'Connor noted, "The sources of soil in our market area of Rhode Island have not been sufficient to find all the necessary shaping and grading material as well as final cap. However, the slow improvement of the local economy should provide enough material to finish in the coming months, but, certainly not by September."

And the Sakonnet River Bridge -- which previously was blamed as a problem for trucks because of weight limits -- now comes in for a new criticism, as O'Connor says that shipments to Portsmouth will be "further discouraged by tolls."

"The primary reasons the project has not been completed are beyond APE's control," O'Connor said, asking RIDEM to grant the request for additional time.

Also in today's communication from RIDEM is a letter closing an issue with soil exceeding the residential limit of 7 mg/kg not being immediately covered, following an on-site inspection that showed "the site is in compliance." Dennen reminds APE of their obligation: "Please be advised that you are responsible for continued compliance with all of the conditions of your 2012 Beneficial Use Determination."

Links to the request for extension and compliance letter.

02871, localbloggging, Landfill capping, landfill

CRMC approves new test sites in Town Dump capping project

Click to embiggen.

The firm doing capping work in Island Park, AP Enterprise, has received permission from the Coastal Management Resources Council (CRMC) for several exploratory excavation sites to determine the boundary of the former Town landfill, according to an e-mail sent today by the RI Dept. of Environmental Management (RIDEM).

RIDEM Principal Scientist Mark Dennen said in the e-mail, "The owner has applied for and received permission from the Coastal Resource Management Council (attached) to perform exploratory test pitting in the northwestern portion of the landfill. This will allow them to more precisely delineate the areas of historic waste deposition, so that they meet cover requirements."

Here are the documents provided by RIDEM: CRMC approval (139K pdf), CRMC Submission (3.4mb pdf).

Editorial note: The torch-and-pitchfork crowd will undoubtedly begin screaming on Patch and their Facebook group that this is an blatant attempt to expand the capping zone and truck in more highly profitable toxic dirt. But if the purpose of the capping project is to, well, *cap* the area containing toxic landfill, this step would seem to make sense. At least it must have seemed that way to the CRMC and DEM, or they wouldn't have approved it. Of course, if you believe they're in the pocket of the developer (and the aliens in the black helicopters), well, then, all bets are off.

02871, Localblogging, Landfill capping

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.

    02871, Localblogging, Landfill capping

    RI DEM renews permit for Portsmouth Island Park dump capping

    The RI Department of Environmental Management has renewed the permit for AP Enterprise (APE) to continue work capping the former Island Park dump for another year, according to an e-mail sent to interested parties this morning by RIDEM environmental scientist Mark Dennen.

    The document, called a "Beneficial Use Determination (BUD)," spells out the conditions for the site cleanup. DEM promised to post it on their web site, or you can download it here.

    The BUD clearly states that existing work has been in compliance, and that one of the main reasons justifying the extension was the slippage caused by the uncompleted Sakonnet River Bridge:

    As of this date, the grading and shaping activities, as well as placement of cover material has been in compliance with the BUDA. However, less than half of the site has been covered. A significant factor in this delay, as outlined in the renewal application, is that truck traffic is restricted over the Sakonnet River Bridge due to ongoing repairs that were originally anticipated to be done early in 2012 but is still ongoing.

    According to Dennen's e-mail, "[T]here are no changes from previous conditions except that a condition was added to give the Department access when APE employees are not onsite."

    Full disclosure: The great thing about science is that stuff is true whether you believe it or not.

    Localblogging, 02871, Landfill capping

    Governor's office says landfill opponents exhibit "a pattern of unsubstantiated allegations"

    Ryan Crowley, constituent liaison for Gov. Lincoln Chafee, responded "directly on his behalf" by e-mail this afternoon to my letter about the behavior of opponents of Portsmouth's Island Park landfill capping project — printed this week in the Newport Daily News, Sakonnet Times, Portsmouth Patch, and RI Future.

    Regarding the public behavior of the protesters, Crowley responded that DEM was not present during the event at the landfill, but, "at a public meeting earlier that year, individuals from the Department felt the conduct of the opponents was threatening enough that Portsmouth Police were called in at their request."

    And on the matter of the complaints the group keeps lobbing at DEM, Crowley said, "you quite accurately note that there is clearly a pattern [of] unsubstantiated allegations. According to DEM the latest allegation involved a claim that soil was highly contaminated with lead coming from a school in Fall River to the project. When DEM researched the complaint, the City Official quoted denied making any such statement about lead in soil. Both third party sampling and the DEM's own confirmation sampling showed there were no exceedences of lead in any of the soils. DEM says this is an illustrative example of the unsubstantiated complaints received over the course of this project."

    Editorial note: A big thank you to Gov. Chafee. It makes me feel better that the torch and pitchfork crowd aren't the only people who get his attention. Thank you, sir.

    Localblogging, 02871, Landfill capping, landfill

    Portsmouth Sen. Ottiano seeks to give locals veto on landfill capping

    Today's GoLocalProv has a story about the nearly one hundred abandoned landfill sites in Rhode Island, and if Portsmouth's Sen. Chris Ottiano (R-11) has has way, capping them could get a lot harder.

    On Feb 13, 2012, Sen. Ottiano appeared before the Portsmouth Town Council and promised to introduce (with Sen. DaPonte of East Providence) legislation on landfills which would provide "More gates for the Town Council or municipality or our constituents to have some say and be able to potentially slow or temporarily stop the process if they see the need." (See 89:40 here)

    Here's the problem: What constitutes "need" -- at least in the case of a landfill in the town of Portsmouth -- is a group (whose spokesperson is a RISC board member) which has, over the past year, ignored the science, distorted facts on a petition, refused to trust test results or the DEM, and used political pressure to try to halt a project to cap an unquestionably contaminated site. These are the voices that Sen. Ottiano's torch-and-pitchfork bill would empower.

    What follows is a letter I sent to Gov. Chafee, DEM Director Janet Coit, and Sen. Ottiano last week, which appeared in yesterday's Newport Daily News:

    (The following post is appended)

    Crossposted from RI Future.

    Localblogging, 02871, Landfill capping, landfill

    Island Park landfill opponents ignore the facts and bully those who disagree (including children)

    In March, 2011, a group of protestors wearing respirators and Tyvek suits surrounded my 11-year-old son on Park Ave. "If you think the landfill is safe," they said, "Maybe we should throw you in there."

    Although I was just feet away, I couldn't hear this. I was also surrounded by people shouting and waving signs to keep Mario Hilario from interviewing me about scientifically established safe levels of arsenic. This, after a Patch reporter caught a protester on video yelling in my face, prompting a call to the Portsmouth police.

    Such is the character of the people opposing the landfill capping work in Island Park: they threaten children and shout down those who try to communicate facts. I have a thick skin, but my son was traumatized.

    Over the past year, they lobbed dozens of accusations at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) -- documented on a RIDEM web site -- but none of their paranoid speculations have survived contact with reality.

    When you read the RIDEM responses, you find phrases like, "The characterization that the Department chose between the Commission and Dr. Vanderslice is not accurate," and, "These assumptions are completely inconsistent with the Regulations, the Commission's recommendations or actual site conditions," and, pointedly, "As is frequently the case on meetings about controversial topics, recollections and interpretations about what was said, as well as speculation on the motives of the participants, are frequently at odds. At this point, the Department feels it has reached the point where it should simply be recognized that the commenters' recollection and interpretations of what was said are at odds with the Department's participants."

    That last one is about as close as a public official ever gets to telling someone they are flat-out lying.

    But the opponents have little choice, because the facts are inconvenient. Batches of soil brought in over the past month were tested -- -- and tested again in response to yet another baseless complaint. Levels of arsenic and lead were well below residential limits. fr sampling final report[1].pdf.

    I do not blindly trust developers or government agencies, but when a year of evidence accumulates, the burden of proof has shifted to the opponents. The facts show this project reduces the risk to our neighborhood from an uncapped landfill full of documented contaminants.

    It is time for elected officials to stop pandering to the uninformed and misinformed: This group had a meeting with the Governor arranged, had their questions answered personally by the RIDEM Director, and had state legislators representing their point of view at Town Council meetings. Enough.

    It's time for our legislators to stick up for the facts and the good of our community. And it's time for them to stick up for my son.

    John G. McDaid

    Governor Lincoln Chafee
    RIDEM Director Janet Coit
    Senator Chris Ottiano
    Senator Susan Sosnowski
    Rep. Jay Edwards

    Localblogging, 02871, Landfill capping, landfill

    Portsmouth landfill capping 1/4 done, DEM monitoring finds no soil issues

    Grading work at Park and Mason
    Grading work at the corner of Park Ave and Mason in Island Park, Portsmouth.

    This month, work on Portsmouth's old landfill in Island Park has reportedly reached the one-quarter completion mark, and recent tests of soil deliveries have shown no unacceptable levels of contaminants, according to sources at the RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and a spokesperson for the contractor.

    The area along Park Ave between Boyd's Lane and Mason Ave has been fairly busy over the last month, with dump trucks bringing in soil several days a week as part of the ongoing effort to cap what was once a town dump, determined by RIDEM to have dangerous levels of contaminants.

    The owner of the property, AP Enterprise, is working with Massachusetts remediation firm Site Restoration Technologies to execute the plan in the RIDEM-approved Beneficial Use Determination (BUD). According to RIDEM's Mark Dennen, who has been monitoring the process and conducting site inspections, the soil coming in on the trucks has all met appropriate standards.

    "The vast majority of the soil brought to the site in the past month is from the Morton School Project in Fall River," Dennen said in an e-mail exchange. "This soil was tested by a third party for the full suite of contaminants; TPH, VOCs, SVOCs, PCBs and metals." (View results here.) Some additional soil came from a bridge project in Pawtucket, Dennen said, and he provided a link to those testing results as well.

    Dennen also sent the most recent site report from a visit last month, as well as the results of an independent sample he took during the visit, which also showed acceptable levels of both arsenic and lead. The report shows that the arsenic level was 2.6 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) which is less than half the residential limit of 7mg/kg, and lead came in at 15mg/kg, which is one-tenth the residential standard.

    David Peter, a principal at Site Restoration Technologies, provided details on the project status in a phone interview. "It's about 25% done," said Peter, explaining that between 40 and 50 thousand tons of soil had already been brought in to the site. Peter said that they were "hoping to have it done this year," but that a variety of factors were slowing things down — notably, the impact of the recession on the construction industry (which would generate fill) and the inability to use the Sakonnet River Bridge. "We would probably be done by now if the Sakonnet River Bridge was done."

    Peter said they had prioritized work to cap the southeast corner of the site, near the intersection of Park Ave and Mason — which is a school bus stop. "We are using our heads," he said. "That's the area of greatest potential impact." The plan, he said, was to get that section graded, capped with the required two feet of residential-grade fill, and planted with grass seed. "When people go to the beach, we don't want it to look like a construction site."

    Editorial note: I have read all the questions raised with RIDEM by Larry Fitzmorris and Tom Casselman, and in addition to their puzzling charting style (numbers increase to the RIGHT on the X-axis, guys) and their questionable command of English (what, exactly, is an "expediential" relationship between two variables?) I find their arguments weak. I live just a couple of blocks from this site, so our family has skin in the game. Show me some data that says I should be worried, and I'm willing to be convinced. But in the meantime, I would like to ask our elected officials to stop pandering to opponents of this project.

    Localblogging, 02871, Landfill capping, landfill

    Island Park dump capping site gets a chain-link fence

    Workers were at the site of the former Town dump today, ringing the location with what appeared to be 8-foot posts and beginning to place chain link fencing around the site, where work is proceeding to cap the old landfill.

    02871, Landfill capping, localblgging