Portsmouth landfill project seeks arsenic exemption from DEM

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Yesterday, Portsmouth Patch reported on a request made by the company doing re-capping work at the old landfill on Park Ave to use dirt with levels of arsenic significantly higher than the RI DEM standard. If you live in Island Park, you will want to attend the Council meeting on Monday, and you may also want to send a note to the RI Dept. of Environmental Management (DEM) explicitly asking for a public meeting.

Sent this to RI DEM yesterday and received a polite, "Thank you, I will be in touch on this issue."

Subject: Written comment pertaining to public landfill in Portsmouth
To: mark.dennen@dem.ri.gov
Cc: sen-ottiano@rilin.state.ri.us, rep-edwards@rilin.state.ri.us, rdriscoll@portsmouthri.com, rgilstein@portsmouthri.com [...]
Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2011 09:12:52 -0500

Mr. Dennen...
Please consider this a formal request for a public meeting pursuant to the notice attached. I am a long-time resident of Island Park, and our family lives two blocks from this landfill. While I fully understand that arsenic is a naturally occurring element, and that 20mg/kg is below mandated cleanup levels, it is still higher than normally found in RI soils, and I'd like the opportunity to have DEM and the developers discuss safety concerns with residents.

I am also cc'ing our state legislative delegation, both as a heads up, and also, because I do not believe that posting in the Providence Journal constitutes sufficient notice to residents of Portsmouth. The Journal may be the paper of record for Providence, but it closed its East Bay office several years ago; this, to me, means that by definition it is not a paper of record for the population of our town, and I would ask our legislators to work with DEM to find ways to provide effective notice.

Best Regards.


PUBLIC NOTICE This public notice is related to environmental conditions at the Former Portsmouth Landfill, located on the north side of Park Avenue in Portsmouth, Rhode Island (Assessor's Plat 20, Lots 1,2, and 13 and Plat 25, Lot 2). In accordance with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's (RIDEM's) Rules and Regulations for Composting Facilities and Solid Waste Management Facilities (Solid Waste Regulations), January 2001 (Amended April 2001 and October 2005), AP Enterprise, LLC, is providing public notice of a proposed amendment of the variance to the Solid Waste Regulations, referred to as the Beneficial Use Determination (BUD) approved by RIDEM on September 20, 2010. The proposed amendment to the approved BUD relates to the re-use of soils that exhibit naturally occurring elevated arsenic concentrations (such as those found on Aquidneck Island the location of the Project) that exceed the RIDEM Industrial/ Commercial Direct Exposure Criteria (I/CDEC) of 7 mg/Kg (parts per million or ppm). These naturally occurring arsenic concentrations are typically identified by the absence of any other contaminants (organic and inorganic) within the sample. The Site is the subject of a remedial action under the Rules and Regulations for the Investigation and Remediation of Hazardous Materials Releases (the Remediation Regulations), as amended August 1996 and February 2004. A Remedial Action Work Plan has been approved by RIDEM which calls for capping of the former landfill area, groundwater monitoring, soil gas monitoring, and an Environmental Land Use Restriction (ELUR). The BUD allows the reuse of soil from off-site that exceeds RIDEM Residential Direct Exposure Criteria but meets Industrial/Commercial Direct Exposure Criteria and GB Leachability Criteria to be used for onsite grading and shaping purposes. The final cap layer will consist of two feet of soil which meets the RIDEM Residential Direct Exposure Criteria. APE requests a change in the acceptance criteria for arsenic-only impacted soils used for grading and shaping soils that will be placed under the approved final cap. Rather than use the RIDEM I/CDEC of 7 mg/Kg, APE requests a maximum arsenic concentration of 40 mg/Kg with a source data average concentration not to exceed 20 mg/Kg. The average concentration would be determined by the arithmetic average of no less than 10 samples. If significant written comments are received, the Department will schedule a public meeting and notify the commenters of the meeting date. Written comments should be submitted (within one week of this notice date) to: Mr. Mark Dennen Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Office of Waste Management 235 Promenade Street Providence, Rhode Island 02909 mark.dennen@dem.ri.gov Arrangements to review RIDEM records may be made by calling 222-6822 ext. 7307.
—Published: 1/5/2011

Scientific disclaimer: Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, so its presence in soils should not necessarily be construed as problematic. And the proposed average levels of 20mg/kg appears to be below the level of concern, according to a recent EPA report about a different location which identifies 25 mg/kg as the cleanup threshold. In terms of direct action as a poison, you'd have to eat about five pounds of dirt to get a lethal dose. But when it comes to carcinogens, my motto is 'Trust but verify.'


Out of 80,000 chemicals, we managed to have our Federal Government
test 200 for our peace of mind. There are always exemptions because
it is too hard, costs too much money and therefore costs jobs that are
sacrosanct in the eyes of politicians and officials.
Certainly, we need to protect jobs as well as advance technologies to create
markets for careers with the proper training and certifications. Our debacle
started in the 1980s when President Reagan saw our government as the
problem and not the solution. Back then the concern for sustaining our
defense industrial base started with the decline in shipbuilding and
number of shipyards. Now our jobs have gone off shore while our
infrastructure continues to erode and instead we build roads in Afghanistan
moreover, pay reparations to Iraq. Technology spin off in dual-use applications
for commercial and weapons manufacturing was rather anemic, in
particular in the SBIR Programs.
So when we read reports of massive animal die-offs all over the world
I wonder if it is not time to think prudently, to think outside the box,
think globally but apply locally, foster organic farming, preserve arable
lands instead of studding our island with more boxes, more people,
more pollution, more growth, and make our toxic cocktails even more
Do our honorable TC board members have the power to say "No" instead
of having to bring every issue to a town meeting? How do we get this
far when it comes to toxic threats. It should be a very easy and
simple answer.
What do YOU think folks?