Canton Repository

May 10, 2001

Toxic substance found in water test at landfill 

Copley Washington correspondent 

WASHINGTON — The latest round of ground-water testing at the Industrial Excess Landfill in Lake Township found higher-than-expected amounts of benzene, a toxic substance and potential carcinogen.

The results, though preliminary, have raised a “major concern — how big is this benzene contamination plume and what are we going to do to address it?” said Tom Shalala, an environmental consultant working for the Lake Township trustees.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency still has to validate the results, which were generated from tests conducted by several companies that used the landfill and are responsible for paying for its cleanup. The companies are Goodyear, BF Goodrich, Bridgestone-Firestone and GenCorp.

Although Shalala could not say how far the benzene has spread in the ground water within the landfill, he said the results show “the size of the benzene plume is larger than what was originally thought.”

The tests of 25 monitoring wells on and near the landfill in March found benzene, a colorless liquid, in one well where it did not appear in previous testing and in another well where it was detected but in smaller quantities, he said.

Both wells are near the center of the landfill.

One well was sampled during testing last November and showed no detectable amount of benzene, a substance long used as a solvent. But it registered 12,000 parts per billion in the latest test, he said, far above federal limits for benzene of 5 parts per billion.

The other well showed benzene at 1,100 parts per billion when it was tested in August. The latest test showed 8,100 parts per billion, he said.

Paul Wolford, a spokesman for the companies paying for the testing, said, “We’ll be looking at those wells again in May to further track the benzene.”

The next round of testing is scheduled for May.

Benzene showed up in eight monitoring wells in the latest testing round. All those wells are in the landfill. In one of those wells, its amount had dropped to 6,100 parts per billion from 12,000 parts per billion in previous testing.

“The next thing that the township is looking for and what the (four companies) said they would provide is a plan” to clean up the benzene, Shalala said.

The tests did not show any contamination exceeding government-accepted levels outside the landfill, officials said. According to Wolford, it also did not show radioactive tritium in amounts exceeding federal standards.