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IDEM, EPA evaluating reuse of superfund sites.

The state and federal agencies that forced the closure and containment of contaminated materials at the Tippecanoe Sanitary Landfill are now assessing the feasibility of allowing public use of the property just north of Lafayette.

Staff from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency visited the 86-acre site at 2801 N. Ninth Street on July 1, environmental engineering consultant Vicky Keramida said.

"They were extremely impressed with the site," she said. Keramida briefed members of the Tippecanoe Environmental Response Finance Board on her efforts to win state and federal approval to reuse the land, and to remove the site from the Superfund National Priorities List.

The landfill was added in 1990 to the national list of locations where known or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants occurred.

The federal Superfund designation came after the state in 1988 won a protracted legal battle to revoke operator Jerry Schlossberg's permit based on elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls.

Schlossberg declared bankruptcy, and left 17 years of waste without the required clay cap to contain the trash, a leachate system to collect water that filters through the trash, vents to release methane gas and wells to monitor groundwater for possible contamination.

The environmental response board, consisting of elected leaders from Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County, was established in 1990. The board purchased the property and negotiated a closure and monitoring agreement with EPA and IDEM.

The board also, from 1994 to 1998, imposed on Tippecanoe County residents an income tax of 25 cents per $100 of taxable income to finance the landfill closure and long-term environmental testing at the site. Opponents filed suit to stop the tax but lost in court.

The money has been used to install venting and collection systems, conduct lab tests and maintain the property.

After a lengthy planning process with IDEM and EPA, local monitoring and maintenance of the site began in June 2000.

Keramida, who was hired by local officials virtually from the start of the arduous process, is beginning to review with state and federal regulators every document, risk assessment, cleanup commitment and monitoring test result filed during the Superfund process.

Before the grounds can be opened for public use, local leaders must prove the site no longer poses an environmental or health risk, said Michael Anderson, a risk assessor from IDEM's office of land quality. The conceptual plan will outline each recreational use and the protective systems in place to prevent exposure to contaminants, Anderson said.

Anthony Benton, an attorney with Stuart & Branigin, has provided legal counsel to local leaders since the start of the landfill saga.

"I hope the site can be used by the public that paid the taxes to clean up the site," he said.

John Knochel, chairman of the board and a county commissioner, said the landfill offers a beautiful view of Wildcat Creek and a nearby lake.

"We would have very limited possibilities of putting any structures up that include any kind of a foundation because that would dig into the clay cap," he said.

The environmental response board would remain in charge of maintaining the clay cap, methane collection and groundwater monitoring, Anderson and Keramida said.

Source: Chris Morisse Vizza, Lafayette Journal & Courier
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Publication:Hazardous Waste Superfund Alert
Date:Jul 31, 2014
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