Environment
7:30 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Environmental Quality Commission Head Urges Action on Lees Lane Landfill

Kentucky’s top environmental advocate is calling for further action on a former Superfund site in Southwest Louisville. The head of the Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission says it’s time to start a conversation about the future of the Lees Lane Landfill.

The Lees Lane Landfill is on 112 acres in Southwest Louisville. From the 1940s to the 1970s, it took in household trash and toxic chemicals. The site was added to the federal Superfund list in 1983, and stayed there for 13 years. And even now, recent tests have shown that there are still high levels of heavy metals and toxic chemicals in the soil.

Regulators recently said the site is still too polluted to be turned into a recreational space. But Environmental Quality Commission Executive Director Arnita Gadson said it’s time to talk about the next step.

“This has been a site that has been a sore for many, many years,” she said. “And I think at this point we should at least give it an attempt to do something with the site. And if we can’t, then we need to do everything we can to restrict access to it.”

Gadson says there’s been conversations about how generally expensive most of the solutions are, but a lack of details.

”Are we going to run out of money?” she asked. “Yes, we probably are. We need to move forward. We need to be creative in trying to figure out what we can do with the site. And if it’s no more than contain it and restrict it, we need to do that.”

Money will be a problem. The Metropolitan Sewer District is responsible for general upkeep on the site for the next seven years, but has already spent the $250,000 it was required to spend. The state recently spend more money on testing, but the site is so big that restricting access would likely be costly.

Currently, there’s no fence around the landfill, and regulators have seen signs of trespassing. Gadson says at the very least steps need to be taken to make sure people can’t get on the site…and to install larger signs informing them of the danger.