Generations of residents from Riverside Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky, have suffered from a host of deadly diseases due to an inefficient cleanup concluded in 1988. Residents were left in the wake of the fiasco with a toxic blight still looming next to their community. In addition to leaching poisonous chemicals to the nearby community of Riverside Gardens through both the groundwater and air, the site is adjacent to the Ohio River, posing a potential hazard to all communities along the river. The time for action is now—help the residents demand that the site be relisted as a Superfund Site on the National Priorities List!
The deadly 112- acre Lee’s Lane Landfill is located in the City of Louisville, Kentucky directly adjacent to the Ohio River. Historically operating as a sand and gravel quarry, the site began to receive domestic, industrial and commercial waste in 1948. However, in 1973 the disturbing truth was officially discovered-- the operator of the site had also been illegally receiving and dumping toxic waste into the landfill. Although the site closed in 1975, the tragedy was just beginning.
Over 212,000 tons of mixed waste was indiscriminately dumped at the Lee’s Lane Landfill. The decomposing waste at the site produced gases, including methane, which migrated into the homes of the Riverside Gardens residents. Then, in 1975, some residents began experiencing flash fires near their water heaters from the explosive levels of gases entering their homes. Despite extensive soil, surface, and groundwater contamination, including carcinogenic chemicals such as arsenic, chromium, benzene, and lead, the site was not added to the Superfund National Priorities List until 1982.
Unfortunately, the cleanup consisted neither of fully removing or remediating the toxic waste. Plans for a venting system to thermally treat gases from the site were only partially implemented, and no serious attempt was made to control for potential groundwater contamination. In fact, the USEPA decided not to conduct necessary drilling tests on the extent of groundwater contamination due to a fear of health risks to workers associated with drilling through the toxicwaste material.
Now the venting system is languishing in disrepair and the residents are still being poisoned from the inadequate initial cleanup. Please write to the USEPA and tell them to end the legacy of pollution in Louisville, Kentucky. We need to stand up to protect the health and safety of this community—demand that the Lee’s Lane Landfill be relisted as a Superfund site!
The health and safety of residents in over 330 homes in Riverside Gardens is affected by failed efforts to remediate the Lee’s Lane Landfill. Chemicals such as arsenic, benzene, lead and chromium have decimated families and left many tragically ill. Regular exposure to these chemicals has been linked to numerous diseases which are unusually prevalent in the local community, including B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, cancers of the pancreas, colon and kidney, leukemia, diabetes, anemia, and Wegener's granulomatosis. These devastating health impacts must not be allowed to continue.
Unfortunately, the cleanup, which concluded in 1988, failed to address the extent of air pollution and groundwater contamination at the landfill. When residents asked about the depth of contamination at the site, the USEPA responded that the health risks were too great to drill through the waste and conduct tests. The residents have suffered enough—they deserve to know the full extent of contamination that exists in their community.
I urge you to properly close the landfill including a permanent impermeable cap,a slurry wall with a leachate collection system around the entire landfill, and a full inspection of the current ventilation system. The state of the ventilation system has been disregarded for nearly a decade and residents are continuing to be poisoned. It is critical that this system be replaced and the venting system be installed according to its initial design—with flares to capture and filter the methane and thermally treat the toxic gases.
Additionally, surface water sediment and groundwater samples must be collected for a comprehensive ecological risk assessment of the Ohio River. Biota sampling of the wildlife that inhabit the Ohio River must also be collected. Fish consumption advisories must be placed along the Ohio River. Additional groundwater samples need to be tested for migration of toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the neighborhood as well as testing basements for ambient air and vapor intrusion. A Comprehensive Health Assessment must be completed, and combined with Cancer advisories.
Furthermore, there is an extreme lack of public participation and transparency. Re-listing this site as a Superfund site means community participation is required by law. In closing, I request that the United States Environmental Protection Agency immediately designate the Lee’s Lane Landfill site as a federal Superfund Site under CERCLA and address all concerns outlines above. I appreciate your timely assistance on this important matter, as numerous families continue to suffer from failed efforts to remediate this toxic site.
Thank you for taking immediate action.