Monday, September 12, 2011

Holland Lagoons Superfund Site Set To Get Clean Bill of Health, With Reservations

By Duane Craig

Visual of Superfund sites in the US
Sometimes part of the final decisions related to contaminated sites is to simply declare the land, or the water beneath the land as unusable. That saves spending even more money on the cleanup especially when the land is unlikely to be acceptable for any other use.

Superfund Site Case Study in Michigan.

That is what is being proposed for the Holland Lagoons Superfund site at Holland, Michigan. According to a report in the HollandSentinel online, the Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comments on the proposal to no longer monitor the site. One reason that will be possible is because the county, with the approval of the state's environmental agency, passed an area wide groundwater use restriction in 2009. EPA's recommended alternative for the site is to take no further action other than ongoing monitoring by Ottawa County of the plume of contamination beneath the site.

The site had its own contamination problems for years but in the end, contamination from a neighboring landfill, the Southwest Ontario County Landfill, or SWOCLF, continuously seeps below it and taints the ground water. Since the Holland Lagoons site was also a landfill and dumping ground, part of the long term plan is to simply restrict groundwater use. The contaminants in the water include "benzene, ethyl benzene, xylene, chlorobenzene, 1,1-dichloroethane, 1,2-dichloroethane, methylene chloride, diisopropyl ether, tetrahydrafuran and total iron." Residents in the area have been connected to a municipal water supply and have abandoned their water wells.
The Holland Lagoons site was home to a business involved in collecting and disposing of waste. From the 1940s to 1977 the Jacobusse Refuse Service Company dewatered liquid waste on the land and used it as a garbage dump. In 1972, Refuse Services bought Jacobusse and renamed the site Holland Lagoons. Then, just the next year, Refuse Services merged with Michigan Waste Systems and became WMI. Initially, food waste was processed at the site but then a portion of it was also used to dewater industrial wastes such as aluminum and metal hydroxide and sludge from wastewater treatment plants. These metal and wastewater wastes were placed into nine lagoons for the dewatering process but by 1977 they were no longer being used. Then, the sludge from the lagoons was removed, mixed with lime and dumped at the SWOCLF.

There were also 43 drums, 55 gallons each, filled with chloral hydrate, a once-widely-used sedative that also found a place in laboratory work and as a cleaner of fibrous waste, buried on the Holland Lagoons site.

In its recommendation to stop remediation and leave the monitoring to the county, the EPA cited the supervision of the site by the county and state over the previous 10 years as evidence the cleanup could be safely stopped and monitored by them. It also concluded that the previous remediation efforts at the site had removed or eliminated the threat from the contaminants that originated there.
Here's where you can read the last five-year review. Here's the EPA's recommendation to stop remediation and its request for comments.

1 comment:

Brian Gibson said...

Why do we stop cleanup before we've cleaned up a site. Environmental professionals should always strive to actively cleanup every contaminant at every site to below standard cleanup levels or we risk having these decisions made by people less informed then we are. The responsible party(s) at the subject site did not set out to contaminate their soil and groundwater. They simply made a cost based risk assessment and determined prevention or cleanup were not cost effective alternatives. That is the same thing we are doing now at this site and countless others like it. If you only partially cleanup a site then why cleanup a site at all. If Environmental Professionals allow accountants to make cleanup decisions, then the accountants will soon decide they don't need Environmental Professionals.