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Years after closing it, Brunswick must now remediate its old T Street Landfill
Posted: September 29, 2013 - 8:49pm | Updated: September 29, 2013 - 11:06pm
By Mike Morrison
BRUNSWICK | The long-abandoned and largely forgotten T Street landfill has been in the crosshairs of the state Environmental Protection Division for years and now a remediation deal has been struck, or nearly so.
The plan is to cover the whole contaminated site over with clean fill dirt and the City Commission will vote Wednesday on a proposal to split the cost between it and two other involved parties, Georgia-Pacific and the Hercules Powder Co. Under the plan, each will ante up 30 percent of the estimated $2.4 million price tag, with the city kicking in the remaining 10 percent in in-kind services.
“Any time you close a landfill you have to go through a closure process with EPD,” City Manager Bill Weeks said. “This one mainly involves installing a cap, covering it up with soil, then we’ll have to fence the site and put down monitoring wells so it can be monitored over a 30-year period.”
Brunswick Pulp and Paper, now Georgia-Pacific, leased the 17.2-acre landfill site just north of the downtown waterfront district to the city in 1958. From 1959 through 1973, the city dumped its household garbage onto the marsh- and creek-front tract and Hercules, now Pinova, used it as a disposal site for industrial waste. Hercules later merged with Ashland Inc., a chemical company, and the plant on U.S. 17 subsequently was acquired by Pinova, minus the environmental liability.
Daniel Parshley of the watchdog Glynn Environmental Coalition said EPD studies show that the site contains a number of contaminants, chiefly solvents, pesticides and lead, that could leach into the groundwater and make their way into the adjacent marshes and tidal creeks. Despite the years and years the landfill has been closed, not enough testing has been conducted to determine if leaching is occurring, he said.
In an EPD investigation, Hercules reported dumping 17,700 tons of processed industrial waste at the landfill.
Merely covering the site with dirt may not be adequate, Parshley said. The fill dirt would seal the waste from the topside, but do nothing to stop chemicals from leaching out below.
“We don’t have the answers as to whether the contents of the landfill are leaching into the marsh,” he said. “Before spending $2 million we need to find out if what they’ve proposed is going to work.”
But Weeks said the level of contaminants in the soil is too low to require further remediation.
“EPD determined there are no actionable levels of contaminants there,” he said.
The monitoring wells will be sunk to test the chemical content of groundwater periodically.
“They just want to ensure that there is no leaching of material in the future,” Weeks said.
Hercules provided jobs and prosperity to the area, Parshley said, but left a mess. The company is responsible for two of the county’s four federal Super Fund cleanup sites, and the T Street landfill joins the closed Fourth Street landfill as state-ordered remediation sites due to dumped chemicals.
Each of the three entities is considered a responsible party, Weeks said, and must share in the financial burden. And each must approve the plan to meet an EPD-imposed Oct. 8 deadline.
The city’s cut could top $800,000, assistant city attorney Melissa Cruthirds said, most of which will come due in the first year or two of the remediation effort.
But Weeks, pointing out the glacial speed at which the process has moved along since the landfill closed 40 years ago, said it could be a few more years before the bill comes due.
“It’s not going to happen for a while,” he said. “We’re still four to five years out before we even start the closure procedure.”
The city will save money by doing some work itself, Weeks said.
The cost estimate represents the “worst case,” he said, “if we had to go to outside sources to buy the dirt and hire contractors to do the labor, but a lot will be done in-house.”
The remediation effort will eventually displace a mulch and compost company that has operated on the site for several years. Golden Isles Wood Products uses wood debris, sludge from the nearby Academy Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and fly ash from Georgia-Pacific in its manufacturing process and
has used the site under an arrangement with the city and Georgia-Pacific, which still holds title to the tract.10/7/13 Years after closing it, Brunswick must now remediate its old T Street landfill.