Variety of Chemicals Discovered in Ivy Landfill

writes: A new study has found all kinds of things in the paint pits at the Ivy Landfill that nobody knew were there, a Friday Progress story reports. It’s the first ever exhaustive study of the pits’ contents, and they found PCBs, DDT and all kinds of nasty things. Oh, and paint. They also concluded that the pits were the source of much of the pollution on the site and the surrounding properties, though they say the stuff hasn’t spread much since the pits were capped in the mid-1990s.

Jake Mooney has the story in today’s Progress.

8 thoughts on “Variety of Chemicals Discovered in Ivy Landfill”


    Daily Progress staff writer

    Chemicals in the paint pits at the Ivy landfill — including the toxin DDT and several others that the facility’s operators didn’t know were there — played a major role in the contamination that exists at the site today, a study by the area’s solid waste authority has concluded.

    There is some good news: The investigation also found that trenches in a 22,000-square-foot area have stopped leaking toxins into the groundwater and surrounding property.

    The release of the study by the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority, which is operated jointly by the governments of Albemarle County and Charlottesville, comes as the authority is seeking state permission to scrap its cleanup plans for the landfill and spend six months developing new ones.

    Throughout much of the last decade, the landfill — known as the Materials Utilization Center — was at the center of a legal fight that largely concluded in October 2000, when the authority agreed to buy several nearby properties and compensate their owners for various costs. The agreement settled a lawsuit filed by residents who said the facility was leaking dangerous chemicals into their water and land.

    Lawrence C. Tropea Jr., the authority’s executive director, said Thursday that caps installed in the mid-1990s appear to have halted the flow of toxins from the pits into the surrounding soil and groundwater.

    “It looked like in the past, they used a backhoe, dug a hole and people just dumped stuff in there,” he said. “It’s back in a different era of time, when people didn’t know how bad that was.”

    Consultants for the handful of plaintiffs who refused to settle in 2000 have said that at least 120,000 gallons of chemical waste were dumped into the pits between 1968 and 1980.

    The authority’s recent study confirmed that paint, paint thinner and other familiar substances were among those chemicals, Tropea said. It also turned up what he called “a few surprises”: herbicides, PCBs and insecticides including DDT, a carcinogen banned in the United States since 1972.

    Tropea said the findings in the study, which was conducted by the firm Malcolm Pirnie Inc., partly are responsible for the authority’s decision to seek a reassessment of its corrective measures plan for the landfill.

    In a public hearing almost a year ago, county residents who live near the facility sharply criticized the cleanup plans developed by Joyce Engineering, a consultant working for the authority.

    In particular, they objected to the firm’s claims that the chemicals in the pits were no longer a threat because they had dried up. Many called for complete removal of the pits, the most drastic cleanup option available and one that could cost more than $2 million.

    Residents said the rest of the firm’s plan — including proposals to cap a separate cell at the landfill, monitor access to the site and allow natural processes to filter toxins out of the water — was inadequate.

    Tropea said Thursday that the authority, which he took over in October, is no longer working with Joyce and plans to choose among three other consultants to formulate a new corrective plan. “Being new here myself,” he added, “it’s an opportunity to bring in some new experts and get a fresh look at it.”

    Crafting a new set of corrective measures would involve a delay of about six months, which must be approved by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. Landfill neighbor Ed Strange, one of the remaining plaintiffs who has pushed for more stringent cleanup measures, said he’s comfortable with the extra time.

    “If we’re going to get a new firm that’s going to get new data and hopefully come up with a much better report, I can support it,” Strange said. “I’d rather see it late and come in right. … The last one wasn’t right, and we’ve waited a year.”

    The study “still begs the question how much contaminant is left in the paint pit, and I don’t think anyone in the world knows that,” Strange said. “The problem remains. It may be moving slower because of a good cap over the paint pit, but the problem is still there.”

    Since the DEQ-mandated closure of the landfill’s last disposal cell and most of its operations in September, the county and city governments have been struggling with a host of peripheral costs on top of the millions it will take to clean up the facility.

    For example, in Charlottesville, where trash haulers working for the city had relied on the landfill’s services, officials blame the coming fiscal year’s budget pinch in part on the higher fees they must pay to cart waste farther away, to Fluvanna County.

    City resident Michael Weber, another remaining plaintiff whose family owns property near the landfill, said Thursday that the facility’s troubles should be a lesson.

    “The problems at the landfill have historically been due to pressure from elected officials to do things as cheaply as possible,” Weber said. “Regardless of what the report says, I hope they realize at this point in history that doing it right the first time is cheaper in the long run than trying to cut corners.”

    Representatives of the firm that performed the new study are scheduled to present their findings at the solid waste authority board’s next meeting, on April 22.

  2. Ooh. Well, man, I’m just not sure that I want to be painted with that brush, OK?

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