DRY BRIDGE ROAD LANDFILL (HOMETOWN PROPERTIES)
NORTH KINGSTOWN, WASHINGTON COUNTY, RHODE ISLAND
BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF ISSUES
A. Site Background
The Dry Bridge Road Construction and Demolition Landfill facility is located in a rural-suburban area of North Kingstown , Rhode Island. The landfill is surrounded by residences, a gravel pit, and light industrial properties, including an adjacent trucking company. The Dry Bridge Road Landfill is currently an active landfill on approximately 20 acres of land in the Annaquatucket River drainage basin in southeastern Rhode Island (1). It has been owned and operated by Hometown Properties, Incorporated, since 1980. Vehicular access to the site has always been restricted. Since 1994 a chain link fence and a 24-hour security guard service have restricted pedestrian access to the site. See Figures 1 and 2 in Appendix A for a map of the site.
In 1997, Rhode Island State Representative Kenneth Carter and U.S. Representative Bob Weygand petitioned the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to evaluate the potential public health impact of the Dry Bridge Road Landfill (2). ATSDR staff members visited the site and in June 1997 met with Congressman Weygand, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), and a group of citizens to collect information for an evaluation. The citizens told the ATSDR team their concerns about the landfill, and RIDEM supplied pertinent air and groundwater sampling data.
The waste materials that are known or alleged to have been deposited at the site include construction and demolition debris, railroad ties, shredded automobile components, and friable asbestos (3). The landfill is currently receiving debris from demolition and construction sites, as well as from residential properties (4). Dust control is performed daily using water and a temporary cap called Posi-Shell, which is applied as a cover on the working face of the landfill.
Odors are currently controlled through a three-stage program:(1) the use of Posi-Shell as a substitute cover material, (2) a pretreatment control system for sulfur, and (3) the installation and operation of a landfill gas collection and flare system. Posi-Shell provides a less permeable covering than soil, and thus it restricts the normal release of foul-smelling landfill gases . The sulfur pretreatment control system, SulfaTreat®, was installed to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. If gas containing hydrogen sulfide is burned, sulfur dioxide is formed. The pretreatment system reduces the amount of hydrogen sulfide in the landfill gas; therefore less hydrogen sulfide is burned, resulting in less sulfur dioxide being formed. The SulfaTreat® system is one in which hydrogen sulfide gas is passed through a granular bed that reacts chemically with hydrogen sulfide. The pretreated landfill gas is then sent to a collection system which channels the gas through a network of polyvinyl chloride piping to two 4-inch stand pipes, each of which has a gas flare that burns the landfill gas under controlled conditions. The exhaust gas is emitted into the atmosphere approximately 2.5 meters above ground level. The exhaust gas does not contain any compounds at levels of health concern. Because the landfill owners were having problems maintaining adequate gas flow pressure to burn the flare, they have now installed a vacuum pump to help maintain a more constant flow of gas to the flare (5).
B. Community Health and Public Health Concerns
Residents who live near the landfill have complained of odors coming from the landfill since approximately December 15, 1996, when hydrogen sulfide gas apparently began venting due in part to abnormal precipitation in early December (6). After the venting, Hometown Properties worked toward controlling the odors by installing the landfill cap and the two gas flares in March 1997. Since this installation, there have been some complaints of sulfur dioxide odors being emitted from the flare. To address this issue, Hometown Properties installed the sulfur pretreatment control, SulfaTreat®, at the landfill in August 1997. With the installation of this system, Hometown Properties was able to remove 99.8% of the hydrogen sulfide in the landfill gas, with the sulfur dioxide emissions being reduced simultaneously (7).
Residents in the vicinity of Dry Bridge Road Landfill have specifically complained about headaches, fatigue, respiratory problems, nausea, itchy eyes, sore throats, and sinus irritations. Residents also expressed concerns about property values, obnoxious odors, dust, and heavy truck traffic. The residents and RIDEM are also concerned about air contaminants other than hydrogen sulfur and sulfur dioxide that may be emitting from the landfill and affecting ambient air quality.
A house inhabited by two adults borders the southern boundary of the landfill property. This house was previously inhabited for 10 years (1985-1995) by a family of four, which consisted of three adults and one child. The child occupied this house for 4 years. The next closest residences that are downwind of the site are in a small subdivision that was built in the early 1990's about ¼-mile east of the landfill (See Figures 1 and 2 of Appendix A). One community concern is that children in the area may be affected by substances from the landfill. There are documented cases of pneumonia and asthma in children living in the vicinity of the landfill, but no analysis has been made to determine whether the levels are higher than expected in comparison areas.
C. Previous Key Actions for the Site
All of the following information was derived from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's Groundwater Division. A detailed time line of site activities is located in Appendix B
Initially the Dry Bridge Road Landfill was licensed by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) in 1980 to accept railroad ties on 6.9 acres of a former gravel pit site. Later, the license was expanded to allow for disposal of demolition debris and shredded automobile waste. The license for the 6.9 acre site was renewed annually. In 1986 Hometown Properties filed a preliminary application to expand the landfill for an additional 14.1 acres for disposal of construction and demolition debris. The expansion was denied by the hearing officer due to a recommendation from RIDEM that pointed out that the landfill is located 6,000-8,000 feet upgradient of North Kingstown's municipal wellfield. Hometown Properties appealed to the Superior Court, and the decision was reversed. In 1989 the landfield was granted approval for expansion. RIDEM and the Town of North Kingstown appealed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court; however, the appeal was denied and the Rhode Island Supreme Court motioned for a stay on the issuance of an expansion license to Hometown Properties. In 1991 Hometown Properties received a conditional 3-year license requiring quarterly groundwater monitoring and the construction of new groundwater monitoring wells. At the end of the 3-year renewal, Hometown Properties was granted a request to amend their operating plan to partially cap the site and increase the height, volume, and length of operation of the facility. Currently, the landfill is still receiving waste in certain areas; however, closure plans are in progress (4). The projected final closure date is spring of 1999 (8).