Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content




The Muskego Sanitary Landfill site is situated within the City of Muskego, WaukeshaCounty,in the State of Wisconsin. Muskego Sanitary Landfill is a former sand and gravel pit whichreceived unspecified types and amounts of municipal and industrial wastes over a period ofapproximately 25 years. There are a three primary sources of contamination identified withinthe site. Excavations at the site revealed a large number of deteriorated drums containingorganic solvents. Adjacent to the site is a former animal carcass rendering plant, which mayhave affected nearby groundwater quality.

Hazardous chemicalsfrom the site are apparently contaminating local groundwater. Thoughgroundwater generally moves across the site to the south and southeast, various geologicdeposits under Muskego Sanitary Landfill complicates shallow groundwater movement awayfrom the site. Samples collected from off-site groundwater monitoring wells have revealedorganic and inorganic contamination.

Muskego Sanitary Landfill site is a public health hazard because in the past some nearbyresidents probably drank private well water containing site-related contamination. Watercollected in 1982 from two nearby private wells revealed levels of lead which could affect thedevelopment of the nervous system in young children. It is unclear if this lead contaminationwas site-related. Currently no private wells near the site show signs of contamination.

The groundwater around the site might pose a future public health hazard if no further actionwere taken to clean up the site. Under such circumstances contaminated groundwater couldcontinue to move away from the site and contaminate other private wells.

Ambient air nearMuskego Sanitary Landfill is an indeterminate public health hazard. Ambientair sampled around the site was found to be contaminated with low levels of benzene andmethylene chloride. Nearby residents could be breathing airborne contamination from the site,but information is not available to estimate the levels and duration of such potential exposures. People breathing this contaminated air over a lifetime could face a low-increased risk of cancer. Implementation of the U.S. EPA's proposed clean-up actions would minimize the release ofVOCs from the site in to ambient air.

Wisconsin's Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Health (DOH)recommendsthe continued monitoring of groundwater in the vicinity of the site. Nearby residential wellsshould also be tested regularly. Further air monitoring could provide a better understanding ofthe extent of ambient air contamination around the site.


A. Site Description And History

Site Description

The Muskego Sanitary Landfill Superfund site(subsequently referred to as the "site") is aformer sand and gravel pit. It is situated within the City of Muskego, Waukesha County,in the State of Wisconsin. It is three miles southwest of the center of City of Muskego andapproximately one mile east of the Village of Big Bend (see Figure 1). The site is locatedin the western half of Section 18, Township 5 North, Range 20 East. Muskego SanitaryLandfill site occupies approximately 56 acres and is bounded on the west by CrowbarRoad, and on the south by Janesville Road.

The Muskego Sanitary Landfill Superfund site is owned by Carl Wauer and operated byWaste Management of Wisconsin, Inc (WMWI). The site is comprised of the three fillareas, which are: the Old Fill area; the Southeast Fill area; and the Non-Contiguous Fillarea. The use of the term "On-Site" refers to locations found within one or more of theseareas and all parts of the Anamax property. The approximate boundaries of these areas aredescribed in Figure 2. The Old Fill area is the largest of the fill areas and is 36 acres insize. The Southeast Fill area is located directly east and southeast of the Old Fill, andcovers approximately 16 acres. The Non-Contiguous Fill area measures 4.2 acres. TheNon-Contiguous Fill area is comprised of four separate and distinct waste disposal zones:two elongated fill areas; the "L-shaped" fill area; and the drum trench area.

The inactive Stone Ridge landfill is owned and was operated by WMWI when it wasactive. This landfill is immediately north and northeastof the site. The former renderingplant (Anamax facility) is east of the Old Fill Area and bordered on the north and south bythe Non-Contiguous Fill and Southeast Fill areas, respectively. The rendering plantcontains a number of buildings and wastewater lagoons. Portions of the Anamax facilityhave been included within the Non-contiguous Fill boundaries. The Stone Ridge landfillhave not been ranked as part of the site.

Site History

The 36-acre Old Fill area was in operation as a sand and gravel pit prior to 1950 (Figure 2). Refuse filling began when the owner received a permit in 1954 from the Town ofMuskego to operate a dump on this site [34, p1]. There is nodocumentation providingdetails about the dumping of hazardous waste at the site, but in the late 1960s there werereports of waste oils and paints being present in the site [2534]. This area evolved into anopen dump, and into a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) licensedsanitary landfill in 1971 [27]. The Old Fill area was closed and coveredin 1977 [34, p7]. In1980 and 1982 there were repair and maintenance fills to increase the site's surface grade,improve drainage, and reduce surface infiltration of water into the refuse [34, p12]. In 1984a partial-active gas venting system (extraction wells, fans and blowers,and vents) wasinstalled in and around the Old Fill Area to reduce methane gas migrating away from thearea [34, p13].

The Southeast Fill area is located east and southeast of the Old Fill, and coversapproximately 16 acres. The area is an engineered landfill, with a natural clay base andsidewalls, and a collection system for the removal of leachate from the landfill [34, p1]. Itwas brought into use as a DNR licensed landfill in 1977 when the Old Fill area was closed. Information is not available about the types of waste dumped at the Southeast Fill area. When the Southeast Fill area was closed in 1980 it was covered with two feet of clay, sixinches of topsoil, and was planted with grass [34, p7].

The Non-contiguous Fill area received wastes from 1969 to 1977 [36]. There are norecords about the types of wastes disposed at the Non-Contiguous Fill area. Test pitinvestigations conducted in 1981 by WMWI, under U.S. EPA supervision concluded thatthis area contained primarily municipal with some industrial wastes. Part of the Non-contiguousFill area is on the Anamax Property.

Groundwater sampling in 1982 suggested that chemicals from the site were affectingoff-site groundwater quality. WMWI sampled off-site private wells in 1981, 1982, and 1984[39, Appendix K]. One private well contained 1,2-dichloroethane at 16and 14 ug/L duringthe 1984 sampling [34, Appendix G], and the well was ultimatelyabandoned in 1990. In1986 a municipal water supply line was extended to the edge of the property line of homeswith private wells at risk of contamination.

In November 1988 test pits excavated during a geophysical survey revealed a small trenchcontaining barrels. This area ultimately became the drum trench in the Non-contiguousFill area. A total of 1,000 drums and 2,500 cubic yards of contaminated soils wereremoved from this trench. All drums and contaminated soils were removed from thetrench by April 1991. Clean fill was placed on this area in May 1991 [27, p3]. Contaminated materials from the trench were sent out-of-state to three different sitescapable of handling hazardous waste.

The Anamax facility was the site of an animal carcass rendering plant. Within the formerfacility are old waste water lagoons, which include an unlined treatment lagoon and aconcrete-lined aeration pond. During normal operations, this facility handled an averageof 170,000 to 200,000 pounds of animal carcasses per day and discharged 25,000 gallonsper day of wastewater into the lagoons. In the early 1970s the DNR issued an air pollutionorder against Anamax, which resulted in the development and installation of four unlinedseepage lagoons for use by the rendering plant [34, p4]. Theseseepage lagoons are foundnorth of the Non-contiguous Fill area. In 1985 use of the seepage lagoons was halted[34, Appendix J]. In 1987 the treatment lagoons

Figure 1. Muskego Sanitary Landfill and Surrounding Vicinity

were closed, and liquids and sludge were removed from the seepage lagoons according toDNR guidelines. When the rendering plant seepage lagoons were taken out of service andthe sludge removed, groundwater monitoring wells adjacent to the lagoons exhibitedimproved groundwater quality [34, p34]. Part of theNon-contiguous Fill area is on theAnamax Property. WMWI plans to demolish the Anamax buildings and fill the inactivelagoons with demolition debris.

An inactive landfill (Stone Ridge), operated by Waste Management of Wisconsin, Inc.(Muskego II, License No. 2985) [34, p1] borders theNon-contiguous area and the northernedge of the Old Fill site. It was one of the early clay-lined landfills licensed in Wisconsin. There is an active leachate collection system at the landfill. Leachate extraction isperformed on a continuous basis and the collection lines are cleaned annually. The landfillis fenced along its north, east & west perimeter, with a gate and gatehouse at the entranceon Crowbar road.

The Muskego Sanitary Landfill site was evaluated and ranked by the United StatesEnvironmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), and placed on the NationalPriorities List onSeptember 18, 1985. The inactive Stone Ridge landfill has not been ranked and is not areincluded on the National Priorities List.

Site Geology

The geologic deposits sampled from the site are of glacial origin and indicate acomplicated geology. The regional direction of groundwater flow under the site is fromthe north to south. The geologic deposits at the site include glacial tills (silty brown andgray), lacustrine clay, outwash sand, and gravel deposits. Outwash sand and graveldeposits underlie most deposits at the site [34, p24]. Thesedeposits vary in thickness anddistribution and are underlain by a Niagara dolomite bedrock at a depth between 250 and305 feet below the ground's surface [34, p19].

The original topography of the site has been greatly changed by the excavation of sand andgravel and subsequent refuse disposal, however the clay and till lenses complicate shallowgroundwater movement. During the 1950 quarrying activities sandy brown outwash wasmined from the many places down to either the lacustrine clay, gray till, or silty brown till. All of the Southeast Fill site and the majority of the Old Fill site is underlain by clay andgray till, which itself overlies outwash sand and gravel unit. Beyond the clay's westernlimits the site is underlain by sand and gravel. The lacustrine clay extends north-northwestfrom the Southeast Fill area partially into the Old Fill area, and up to the Non-contiguousFill area. Groundwater does not flow well through the relatively impermeable lacustrineclays and glacial tills [34, p28]. Therefore shallow groundwaterflowing from the site tendsto flow to the north/northwest, up to the edge of clay, then cascades into the deeper andpermeable outwash sand and gravel, and flows south. However, groundwater in someplaces does flow to the east from the Southeast Fill site. Refuse in the Old Fill area isfound partially below the water table [34, p38].

Figure 2. Muskego Sanitary Landfill

B. Site Visit

DOH representatives conducted the first site visit on August 18, 1988. They reviewed thearea from the perimeter by driving and walking around the entire site. Access to the sitewas not sought.

The Stone Ridge landfill was observed to be in use. The Old Fill and Southeast Fill areaswere mounded and covered with grass. No leachate ponds were seen and the areaappeared to be dry (this was at the end of an extremely dry summer).

A second DOH site visit was conducted on October 9, 1991. Also present wererepresentatives from Waste Management of Wisconsin, the U.S. Environmental ProtectionAgency (Region V), and the Waukesha County Health Department. During the site visit,the following activities were observed [14]:

  • The Stone Ridge Module 3 landfill was observed in the process of being capped. Top soil was spread over the cap, in preparation for planting with grass.
  • Most of the Muskego Sanitary Landfill site perimeter appeared to be well fenced, topped with barbed wire, and posted with "no trespassing" signs every 200 feet. However part of the boundary with the Anamax facility was not fenced, a possible location of unauthorized entry.
  • Gas flaring was occurring at locations around and on the Superfund site.
  • The caps on the Old Fill and Southeastern Fill sites were well covered with vegetation.
  • The staging area in the Non-contiguous Fill area was being prepared for the removal of 88 drums/drum remnants and contaminated soil recently excavated from the drum trench.
  • Surface water movement was explained by the WMWI Stone Ridge Landfill Manager. He said that surface water stays on the site by being channeled to one of three on-site locations, and dissipates through seepage and/or evaporation.
  • WMWI staff identified two methods for removing leachate from the site: pumpingfrom several removal stations into tank trucks, and, for the Southeast Fill areas,pumping through a sanitary sewer.

Private homes were observed in the vicinity of the site. The WMWI Muskego SiteManager pointed out the private wells which were selected for ongoing water testing, andindicated those homes which continued to use well water exclusively for all domestic uses. Some homes with active wells are also connected to the municipal water supply. Themunicipal water supply to affected homes on Hillendale, Janesville, and Crowbar roadswas installed in 1986. Only a portion of these homes are connected to Muskego municipalsewage lines. Also noted was an operating restaurant/tavern on Janesville Road thatobtains all of its water from a well. (Note: One year after the site visit thisrestaurant/tavern connected to City water and no longer uses the well for consumptionpurposes.)

A third DOH site visit was conducted on June 6, 1994 [17]. Alsopresent wererepresentatives of Waste Management of Wisconsin and the U.S. EPA. The followingobservations were made during the site visit:

  • WMWI was in the process of capping the Old Fill and Southeast Fill areas with clay. The clay is borrowed from an area immediately south of the Old Fill area.
  • A total of 63 extraction wells have been installed to remove gas and leachate from these areas.
  • The L-shaped area was capped and other locations within the Non-Contiguous area had been excavated and removed from the site. Most of the Anamax buildings have been demolished and removed from the property.
  • A sediment basin was installed, in 1993, just south of the L-Shaped area. Another sediment basin will be installed at the active clay borrow. Both of these basins will receive all surface water run-off from the entire site.
  • Regular groundwater monitoring continues at all on-site and off-site monitoring wells. There were no reports of changes in groundwater contamination. Most nearby residences have been connected to a municipal water supply.
  • No new concerns have been raised by residents who live near the site.

C. Demographics, Land Use, And Natural ResourceUse


The area around the site is semi-rural, with limited agriculture. There are approximately130 homes within one-half mile of the site. This converts to a population of 325,assuming 2.5 persons live in each home. The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional PlanningCommission estimates a population of within one mile of the site to be 2,991 [39, p3-8]. Recently constructed homes were observed during the October 1991 site visit to beapproximately one-half mile north and northeast of the site. Most new residentialdevelopments are to the northeast, north, and northwest of the site. There are no schoolsor retirement communities within a one-mile radius.

Demographic information about persons living adjacent to the Muskego Sanitary Landfillsite is from the 1990 census, which is defined by zip code. The City of Muskego (over 99percent caucasian) is a middle to upper-middle income community at the southwesternedge of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. The median age is 30.5 years. According to the1990 Census, there are 304,715 persons living within Waukesha County, Wisconsin. BigBend has a population of 1,299 and 16,813 persons reside within the City of Muskego. The annual population growth rate for Muskego is approximately 0.9% [12][13].

Land and Natural Resource Use

The land surrounding the site is a mixture of private homes, small-scale agriculture,medium-sized farming, and industrial use. Homes and farms are to the immediate east andsouth of the site. Homes are also found along Hillendale road to the immediate northeastof the site. Agricultural activities are interspersed with private homes. Some residentsraise livestock, such as horses and sheep. Local residents obtain domestic water fromeither private wells or the municipal water supply.

An apple orchard, harvested annually, is found on the eastern end of the Anamax property. A small corn field was observed immediately southwest of the site. There are very fewnearby bodies of water. However, one nearby resident uses water from a wetland toirrigate their orchard. There are no other reports of people or businesses using surfacewater.

An active sand and gravel quarry is located to the west of the site. Blasting at the quarryhas been observed by the site manager and active gravel removal was seen at the time ofthe 1991 DOH site visit. Approximately one-half mile east of the site is a spring-waterbottling plant, which bottles water from a source in the Village of Big Bend. Immediatelysouth of the site is a restaurant .

D. Health Outcome Data

"Health outcome data" is a phrase referring to records of death and disease. When there isevidence that people near a site have been exposed to contaminants at levelswhich couldlead to an increase in rates of death or disease, a review of health outcome data may beappropriate. A review also may be appropriate if there are reports of unusual clusters ofdiseases near a site.

As discussed in the Pathways Analysis section (page 21), three nearby householdsprobably used groundwater containing two site-related contaminants. Also it is possiblethat nearby residents breathed air contaminated with chemicals which originate from thesite. However, there is not enough information to determine if any people were exposed,much less what might be the duration and level of such exposures.

Some of the chemicals detected in ambient air are known to be cancer-causing. Based onthe possibility of human exposures, the DOH will evaluate the appropriateness ofexamining cancer incidence data for the Muskego area.


Quarterly monitoring of private wells was initiated because of concern about private wellcontamination. Additionally, in 1986 municipal water lines were installed by WMWIwithin five feet of homes with wells which were at risk of contamination. These homesare on Hillendale, Janesville, and Crowbar roads. Not all buildings adjacent to the site areconnected to the public water supply [34, p13].

Division of Health staff met with the Mayor of Muskego and two community members, onOctober 9, 1991, to discuss any health concerns that they have related to the MuskegoSanitary Landfill Superfund site. Also present were representatives of WasteManagement, a representative of State Senator Adelman, and the Waukesha County HealthDepartment Sanitarian [16].

The community health concerns expressed at the meeting related to:

  • Illnesses from contaminated airborne dust that might be generated during theremediation process.
  • Any potential explosive hazard resulting from underground gas movement from thesite into private buildings.
  • The continued sampling of existing private wells.
  • The possibility of contamination to any new wells that would be dug in the area
  • The exposure of livestock and pets to contaminants that could be detrimental toanimal health, and, indirectly, to human health.
  • The flow of contaminated surface water off of the Superfund site and onto private property.
  • The uptake of contaminants in gardens and orchards, particularly when surface water is usedfor irrigation.
  • The possibility of contamination to the deep, well on Anamax property. This is a deep, highcapacity well drawing from a aquifer far below the contaminated aquifers. The City of Muskego sees this well as a feasible municipal water supply.

The Mayor stated that "there would be more concerns if municipal water wasn't available"to residents adjacent to the site. WMWI has covered the cost of bringing municipal water up toresidences adjacent to the site.

During the June 6, 1994 site visit, the U.S. EPA Remedial Project Manager said theycontinue to receive citizen concerns about the potential for dust generated during siteremediation, particularly since it was a dry spring. No other community concerns werereported.

Next Section         Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #