Federal Environmental Protection Agency officials say there’s still work to be done at the Lees Lane Landfill site in southwest Louisville, though they don’t believe the site is currently a danger to nearby residents.
The landfill was closed in 1975, but many of those still living in Riverside Gardens remember seeing hazardous waste being trucked in. It was declared a Superfund site in the 1980s and underwent remediation. In 1996, it was taken off the national priority list, but the EPA continues to monitor the site. Twenty-five companies that dumped at the landfill have paid money for the clean-up, and Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District agreed to do maintenance on the site for 29 years, or until it spent $250,000.
Representatives from the agency were at a community meeting Thursday evening near the landfill. Donna Seadler is a remedial project manager with the EPA’s regional office. She’s overseeing the work at Lees Lane, and says there are still a few questions to be answered.
”With landfills, they don’t go away,” she said. “So, this one has been in operations and maintenance since it was de-listed from the Superfund list in 1996 and there have been some ongoing issues since the de-listing that have been identified.”
Although it’s very likely people who have lived in Riverside Gardens for decades were exposed to toxic chemicals, Seadler says the EPA doesn’t think there’s any current danger from the site, as long as people respect the “no trespassing” signs and stay away.
The EPA plans to take a groundwater survey this fall to see if anyone in the neighborhood is still using wells. They also need to determine if there’s still a danger from methane at the site, and if so, replace methane wells. That’s trickier, finance-wise, because methane wells are expensive and the MSD is nearing the cap of the money it agreed to spend on remediation.
But people at the meeting were angry.
Terri Humphry lives in Riverside Gardens. She says the work the EPA did on the methane wells is appreciated, but:
“We have more problems than just methane gas,” she said. “There’s arsenic, there’s all kinds of chemicals back there, and we feel they’re leaching into our neighborhood.”
The EPA says there have been no signs of groundwater or soil contamination in years, but residents accused the agency of insufficient monitoring.
The Lees Lane site undergoes environmental reviews every five years, and is due for another next year.