ROCKINGHAM -- The landfill on Route 5 will be one of 27 sites across New England to have its cleanup and remedies reviewed as part of routine evaluations conducted every five years by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Emily Zimmerman said the federal agency performs reviews on previously-completed cleanup and remediation work done at sites and federal facilities on "National Priorities List," which is made up of the largest hazardous waste sites in the country. She said the evaluations determine if implemented remedies at the sites are still effective at protecting human health and the environment.
Superfund sites, or those on the "National Priorities List," are regulated by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and will get reviewed every five years until they are dropped from the list. The reviews identify any deficiencies to the previous work and recommend action to address them, if necessary. Zimmerman told the Reformer this will be the fourth five-year evaluation for the Rockingham landfill.
The EPA is performing the five-year evaluations at six other sites in Vermont, as well as two in Connecticut, one in Maine, 10 in Massachusetts, six in New Hampshire and one in Rhode Island.
The federal agency will also provide the public a chance to evaluate preliminary findings and to provide input on potential follow-up activity that may be required following the review process.
Zimmerman said the site used to be owned by the Rockingham/Bellows Falls municipality, but Municipal Manager Willis D. "Chip" Stearns II said he does not know who owns it now.
The EPA website states the Rockingham site served as a borrow area for the construction of Interstate 91 in the early 1960s. In 1973, Browning-Ferris Industries, Inc. bought the landfill from an individual, who had started operations in 1968. According to the EPA, state files indicate that industrial wastes -- including heavy metals, bases, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) -- were deposited in the unlined disposal area from 1968 to 1979. Vermont licensed the site as a municipal landfill certified to accept hazardous waste from small quantity generators in 1983 and the site was closed in 1991. An estimated 2,700 people live within a mile of the site and roughly 6,400 live within three miles.
The EPA completed studies at the site in 1993 and addressed the source of contamination under the Superfund Accelerated Cleanup Method (SACM). A remedy was selected to address the cleanup of the groundwater in 1994 and long-term monitoring of the groundwater, surface water, and residential wells will continue to ensure that established cleanup levels are met.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.