Arsenic Fact of the Day: Petition misled Portsmouth residents

Landfill petition
Landfill petition

According to the DEM, the anti-landfill petition circulated in Island Park contained language which "inaccurately characterizes the proposal." The arsenic concentration, the height of the cap, and the nature of the fill are all incorrect, DEM said in their final ruling on the Beneficial Use Determination (BUD), available on the DEM web site.

PETITION: opposing 8’ elevation and the use of contaminated industrial fill which contains 20-40 ppm of arsenic

We, the residents of Portsmouth, petition the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Portsmouth Town Council to deny the request to cap the Island Park Landfill site with fill contaminated with 20-40 ppm of arsenic and request an extension for review of the history of submitted material and for further laboratory investigation including written comments prior to issuing its final approval.

The Department is very concerned that a petition was provided to hundreds of residents, the title of which (Residents oppose use of 8' of contaminated industrial fill containing 20-40 ppm of arsenic.) inaccurately characterizes the proposal of 12/3/2010 that is under consideration. Therefore the Department is left to conclude that they accepted the statement as fact. Specifically:

  • The proposal calls for a 3-5% grade of the site with a maximum height of 8 feet. See Purpose of the Cap
  • The proposed modification does not call for use of contaminated industrial fill with arsenic. It calls for the use of soils only containing naturally occurring levels of arsenic with the absence of other contaminants in the soil. See also The Relationship of Regulatory Standards to the Proposal
  • The proposal calls for soils from sources with a maximum average of 20 ppm, with a maximum of 40 ppm in addition to other fill previously approved with levels below 7 ppm. The Relationship of Regulatory Standards to the Proposal

[emphasis in original]

Editorial note: I strongly encourage anyone who lives in Island Park to read the entire BUD and get the facts.