Sunday, February 04, 2007

Superfund sites

I was surprised to learn that Elkhart County is a site that has been designated a superfund site by the EPA. You can go to the EPA website if you want to read more about this.


Michelle Verges, Project Director said...


Thanks for posting those links. I went online and read about the HIMCO dump--it's disturbing to know that it's listed as a Superfund Site. In the summary, it mentions residents who complained that their water was "foaming" due to contaminants in the water (i.e., leachate escaping from the landfill into the water supply). I wonder how long residents were given bottle water to drink. According to the report, there's about 1,ooo-5,000 residents that live within a 1-mile radius of the landfill. That's a lot of people who are vulnerable to the effects of the HIMCO dump in Elkhart.

Anonymous said...

I was also disturbed by how long the process of clean-up is. I wondered why once a site is designated as a superfund site it takes several years to clean it up.

Michelle Verges, Project Director said...

Yah, I never thought of how cumbersome the Superfund process is. But apparently, it's a complex system:

The EPA first conducts a preliminary inspection, which includes interviewing residents and conducting field samples. This information is used to develop a "hazard ranking score" to determine how severe the conditions are at the dump and nearby areas.

If the conditions are really bad, then the EPA will conduct a full investigation to measure the extent of the contamination and health risks to residents. A report is subsequently written based on the investigation, which also includes a plan to improve landfill conditions.

This report is then presented to the general public (most likely at a Town Hall meeting) for review.

With public approval, the landfill goes into a "Remedial Design and Action" phase to improve the dump and area conditions. Depending on the landfill conditions, operators are given a deadline (usually a few years) to improve the situation. If the dump does not meet EPA standards by the imposed deadline, it is shut down. In addition, there's a 5-year follow-up review to make sure landfill operators have continued to comply to EPA standards.

Wow, these Superfund sites are no joke! I think the take-home message is to make sure the dump meets EPA standards from the start!!