EPA Year In Review: Is Wildwood Safe from Dioxin?
Here are some interesting notations from the Environmental Protection Agency open house held in Wildwood earlier this year. With the removal of more buried barrels of paint waste earlier this month, some residents still wonder what to believe.
At the last open house meeting hosted by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials, they told Wildwood residents they do not believe there are any remaining human health issues at the former Superfund Bliss-Ellisville site in Wildwood. A portion of the remediated area, the Strecker Forest development, was proposed to be constructed into 21 houses by homebuilder Wesley Byrne.
But some residents and city officials were not sure what to make of the latest EPA cleanup effort and underground barrels found at the former toxic waste dump off Strecker Road in Wildwood earlier this month.
See previous article: EPA's Latest 'Dioxin-Related' Cleanup in Wildwood Prompts New Concerns
The three barrels, estimated at 55-gallon drums, were filled with paint waste, according to EPA officials. The barrels were hauled away, along with 1,500 cubic yards of soil.
EPA employees hauled away 1,200 other barrels from this same Superfund site during the 1980s. The site became a toxic problem after waste hauler Russell Bliss buried drums filled with industrial waste, oils and dioxin, as well as poured liquid chemical concoctions into open pits and storage tanks. Bliss also was the notorious person associated with spraying dioxin-laced oil to decrease dust on gravel roads at the former city of Times Beach near Eureka, before the entire city had to be evacuated and demolished.
See articles related to Times Beach:
EPA experts stated in 1999 the Wildwood Superfund area was safe for residential use, which Byrne said is the reason he agreed to purchase the property to develop into homes. Wildwood city representatives first authorized Byrne to build there, but revoked approval shortly after—all during the winter of 2007. Byrne has been locked in a lawsuit with Wildwood representatives ever since.
Notations from the EPA Open House worth noting before 2012 ends:
- The city limits of Wildwood didn’t exist in 1980 when the Superfund site was established.
- The site basically consists of three, non-contiguous components: Rosalie property; Bliss contiguous residence and home of Bliss Waste Oil Co. dioxin contaminated waste oil and horse arenas in 1970; and the Callahan property. [EPA records indicate: During the 1960s and 1970s, the Bliss Waste Oil Company operated in the transportation and disposal of waste oil products, industrial wastes and chemical wastes. These wastes were disposed of in pits and drums, and on the ground surface at the 11-acre Bliss property. The Callahan property is an 8-acre tract of land where drummed liquid and solid wastes were disposed of during the 1970s. The Rosalie property is a portion of an 85-acre tract of land where drummed liquid and solid wastes were disposed of in and near creeks. All three subsites drain to tributaries of the Missouri River.]
- A total of 1,200 drums were found in the hillsides, which were cleaned up in 1982.
- Samples were collected through 2005 to characterize the area.
- In the early 1980s, drums were found along the creek bank; water erosion was thought to have spread the problem. It took from 1980 to 1994 to stabilize containers and dioxin-contaminated soil. EPA didn’t have any remedy anywhere in country to treat this soil. A temporary incinerator was set up at Times Beach.
- "Residential cleanup goals" equal no worries with exposure.
- In 2000, SCI was commissioned by Byrne to analyze the area.
- In 2008, data was reviewed by URS, which was commissioned by Wildwood city representatives.
- In 2010, a phase 2 investigation was sponsored by Wildwood and conducted by Mundell and Associates to further characterize the soil and water condition
- In 2011, a company called Environmental Stewardship did a risk assessment. EPA didn’t agree with all recommendations from this assessment, and identified concerns with Wildwood.
- EPA focused on the ravine at the Superfund site, and developed a new study plan for their own risk assessment, which was released to the public for comments and feedback.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources experts stated they believed the density of the bedrock there prevented the spread of toxins in the groundwater, or filtered it, based on the results of on-site monitoring wells. They also stated they didn't believe the situation posed any problems with indoor vapor intrusion.
DNR project manager Don Van Dyke said based on the direction groundwater flows, everything he had seen looked encouraging. "It does not indicate red flags and whistle blowing," he told open house attendees.
He said EPA testing and assessments were intended to be complementary to the Mundell testing.
Wildwood residents voiced they had lost sales on their homes because this situation wasn't disclosed to them when they purchased during 1997-1998, and that their homes were now "stigmatized." They also said they were now finding they were accused of fraud.
Read related Eureka-Wildwood Patch articles:
Events Involving the Bliss-Ellisville Superfund Site Jan. 13, 2011
Owning a Superfund Site Jan. 18, 2011
EPA Actions Puzzle Wildwood Leaders April 24, 2012
Abandoned 'Superfund Buildings' Demolished in Wildwood April 26, 2012
EPA Issues Statement to Wildwood Residents June 12, 2012
Wildwood Mayor States Next Steps After EPA Open House June 22, 2012