NORTH SMITHFIELD/BURRILLVILLE – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a five year review report for the Western Sand & Gravel Superfund site, noting that further investigation is needed of activities at a nearby property to ensure the actions there will not affect ongoing remediation efforts on the contaminated land.
The report, the seventh since the EPA became involved with the lots in the 1980s, aims to ensure that remedies put in place to protect human health and the environment are effective, and will continue to address contamination problems. The 25-acre site, which is located just north of Douglas Pike with land in both Burrillville and North Smithfield, was used for disposal of hazardous waste in the late 1970s that contaminated area groundwater.
Remediation efforts have been ongoing since 1980 with removal of contaminated groundwater, installation of filters and activation of an alternate water supply for area residents.
The latest review on status of the property notes that overall, remediation efforts have been effective. Residents, however, expressed ongoing concerns regarding fugitive dust from nearby Material Sand & Stone during a public feedback process, and EPA investigators ultimately note that more investigation will be needed to ensure the company’s activities will not impact the Superfund site.
“Multiple residents, as well as the owner of the (Superfund) site said they voiced their fugitive dust concerns to RI DEM, but feel their concerns were not adequately addressed,” notes the report, released in September.
The EPA notes that many area residents mistakenly confused the property where Material Sand operates a gravel extraction operation with the Superfund site. The actual site now holds a truck body assembly plant, and abutting land is monitored and controlled through the EPA program.
Material Sand operates a quarry on a property one lot further to the east, however, and EPA investigators noted that the parcel immediately adjacent to the Superfund site’s east is only 52 feet at its narrowest.
“This means the parcel which contains the active quarry is therefore approximately 75 feet from the boundary,” the report states. “There are no institutional controls on this parcel preventing impact to the downgradient site.”
The EPA notes that the gravel company’s property also contains eight manmade ponds.
“This is of concern due to the close proximity of these ponds to the site and the potential to disrupt groundwater dynamics and surface and/or overland flow discharges,” notes the report.
The report notes that the quarry has expanded significantly since the last review five years ago, “and has been the subject of many complaints by abutters and nearby residents.”
Further, the report states that during inspection of surrounding properties that do have institutional controls in place, “evidence of dumping of vegetative debris and water discharge,” was observed on the property between the quarry and the Superfund site, “presumed to have originated from,” the quarry property.
“RI DEM issued a Rhode Island Discharge Elimination System permit to allow infiltration of ‘stormwater,’ however it is unclear if impacts to the site were considered or if setback requirements were followed,” the EPA notes.
“Investigations into these activities are ongoing.”
The EPA’s full 104-page report can be found here.