Toxins appear in landfill sampling
MINISINK FORD, NY — State sampling of water wells in and around the former Barnes Landfill in September of last year showed excessive levels of nine metals and chemical contaminants, according to a June 13 response letter to the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) from Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regional materials management engineer James J. Lansing Jr.
In his May 21 letter to Bill Rudge, who represents DEC on the river panel, UDC resource specialist Pete Golod made a number of requests for historical information about sampling, the closure and subsequent DEC oversight of the landfill.
Lansing reported that “The site has been inspected by DEC staff twice in the past year, on August 3, 2017 and again on May 14, 2018. In addition, DEC staff were at the site twice in September of 2017, on the 8th and the 11th, with the Department’s contractors, for the purpose of collecting groundwater samples from onsite monitoring wells [and] water supply wells in the vicinity of the site.”
He provided spreadsheet copies of test well sampling for 113 contaminants, from September 8 and 11, 2017. Those samplings revealed a level of perfluorooctanoic acid, a toxic, corrosive and suspected carcinogenic substance in excess of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lifetime health advisory guidelines; six metals (aluminum, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, and sodium) and chemicals (benzene, a known carcinogen, and chlorobenzene, which was formerly a component of DDT), all in excess of DEC water quality standards.
Testing results of residential wells “may be requested from the NYS Department of Health,” Lansing reported. He did not say whether those results were reported to residential well owners.
Incomplete DEC records apparently left Lansing reaching for responses to other questions.
As to the closure, Lansing wrote, “A review of Department files indicates that the Barnes Landfill closure plan, including the leachate collection system, was approved by the Department on June 1, 1992. Though documentation of an inspection by DEC staff upon completion of work was not located in the file, it cannot be assumed that such an inspection did not take place.”
The DEC has records of eight inspections in the past 15 years. Lansing wrote, “Please note that it is likely that additional inspections were conducted by Department staff, though there is no definitive documentation on the dates that they were carried out.”
Lansing wrote that a Freedom of Information request would be required for a copy of the closure plan and directed additional questions about the status of the landfill to the New York State Attorney General’s (NYSAG) office.
The issue came before the UDC when they met on July 5, where Rudge reiterated the state’s failure to find a responsible party. He said that grant funding had been offered to the Town of Highland to assume responsibility for the landfill, but the town declined. “There is nothing in the record to show that [the landfill] was ever a municipal landfill,” Rudge said.
“There’s no successor, county or state? Who has to take over?” National Park Service delegate Carla Hahn asked.
“It’s optional. No one has the obligation,” said UDC Chair Aaron Robinson.
UDC Executive Director Laurie Ramie recalled that UDC then moved to support the NYSAG’s pursuing further actions.
Calling for the letter to NPS, Robinson said UDC wanted to know about the NPS “game plan and authority to weigh in. It’s a tough problem, but manageable,” he said.