Resistance over proposal to use contaminated soil at landfill

A proposal by one of Monroe County Landfill’s biggest contractors is being met with resistance.
Jerry Martel, owner of Modern Disposal Systems in Sparta, has proposed hauling dirt from a property he owns in Tomah to be used as daily cover at the landfill. Daily cover is material placed on the waste cell each day to keep garbage from blowing away.
Martel’s  property is a former lumber treatment facility, which has arsenic, a byproduct of treated lumber, in the soil. That has created a stir among Ridgeville and other county residents who have circulated a petition to keep the soil out of the landfill.
The Monroe County Solid Waste Committee has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the American Legion in Sparta to discuss the issue.
According to Mark Halverson, chairman of the committee, the county hasn’t decided yet if it will accept the waste or not and Tuesday’s meeting is to gather facts. No action is listed on the agenda.
He said until the Department of Natural Resources  makes a determination on whether the landfill can legally take the soil, the committee doesn’t plan to vote on it.
Ridgeville Town Supervisor Ron Luethe, whose district the landfill lies in, agreed that there is need for more information on the issue.
“I think there is a lack of facts and we need to work on getting answers,” he said.
Martel is remediating the property, located at 800 Townline Rd., and has hired engineers to assess the soil’s content. Those findings will likely be part of Tuesday’s meeting.
John Morris, a professional soil scientist in the DNR waste program, said Ridgeville is not a hazardous waste landfill but rather a municipal landfill and cannot accept large amounts of hazardous waste.
However, he said, the first step is to characterize the soil and how it would be disposed of. That means finding the cause of the contamination. Arsenic is also found naturally in soil.
According to Morris, it’s not uncommon for mildly contaminated soil to go to a municipal landfill since landfills are designed to keep contaminates contained on site where they go through a leachate system.
It is the propertyowner’s responsibility to determine if the waste soil is a hazardous waste. 
“A hazardous waste determination needs to be made before there are decisions made about where and how to dispose of the soil because hazardous waste has different disposal requirements than solid waste,” he said.
The meeting begins at 4 p.m.

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