Wildwood Subdivisions Near Superfund Site Cleared for Public Safety by EPA Officials
Still dealing with dioxin issues 15 years post-cleanup but with new test results: Environmental Protection Agency's Region 7 team inform Wildwood residents most of contaminated area is safe for living and future building.
For the last five years, concerned Wildwood residents, city staffers, council members, government officials, consultants, lawyers, a judge and a particular home developer have been trying to determine just how far-reaching the devastating effects of a dioxin-laced Superfund site in Wildwood may extend to land that immediately adjoins the contaminated homestead of infamous waste hauler Russell Bliss. Home builder Wesley Byrne is particularly focused on environmental issues related to the controversial land, because he and Wildwood city representatives have been locked in a lawsuit since 2007 that prevents him from building a new subdivision on the 18.3 acres he owns there.
New answers now are coming from the U.S. leading authority in environmental matters at a timely juncture, as the next status conference with the judge handling the lawsuit is Nov. 14.
Wildwood-based Strecker Farms subdivision residents some time this week are expected to receive an official letter from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 7 team about recent dioxin-related re-evaluation results of their properties. Strecker Farms' residents are being informed that EPA experts have no reason to believe their properties are "affected or impacted by the contaminants of concern identified at the Bliss/Ellisville site," just east of their homes. In the letter, Gene Gunn, chief of the Special Emphasis Branch for the EPA Superfund Division, states EPA staffers do not have plans for additional investigational or environmental-related sampling at the Strecker Farms subdivision.
An electronic copy of that Oct. 29 letter was emailed to Eureka-Wildwood Patch; it can be viewed as an attachment to this article.
Is it good news for the 65 households of Strecker Farms? "I think so," said Strecker Farms' resident Dan Topik. "But I'm waiting to see what's contained in the future EPA work plan for the other spots still in question."
Historic Summary of Issue:
- Cleanup of the contaminated site was initiated during March 1982. By December of that year, it was recommended to be placed on National Priorities List (NPL).
- During September 1983, it was listed as Final NPL.
- Construction (remediation) was deemed complete as of Sept. 30, 1997.
- The Bliss/Ellisville site remains on the NPL today.
As part of a recent Expanded Site Review project, EPA representatives analyzed soil and ground water samples at the Strecker Forest property owned by Byrne. The goal of the re-evaluation was to determine if former contaminants existed in concentrations that threaten human health and residential use of the area. The Strecker Forest property encompasses three parcels at 165 Strecker Road, 173 Strecker Road and 177 Strecker Road.
The letter states Strecker Forest property "did not exceed health-based screening levels for residential land use, except at two locations." The two locations are the areas to which Topik referred.
One of those two spots is located on property owned by Bryne, which is located between Strecker Road, Engelbrook Drive and Strecker Farms Court. EPA officials stated it had a dioxin detection of 75.5 parts per trillion, which is above the agency's screening level for residential use of 50 parts per trillion. In the letter, EPA officials stated this dioxin appears to be associated with the disposal of asphalt shingles. The letter further informs that since that level was discovered, Byrne removed the impacted soil and shingles, and that the EPA team has cleared the spot for residential use.
The other hot spot is in the extreme northeast corner of Bryne's Strecker Forest property that borders the Bliss/Ellisville NPL site. This area, stated EPA officials, is still impacted by past contamination, requiring them to assess different options to address the issue. In fact, as of Tuesday, this particular area was fenced off.
"We are being responsive to the residents and city officials, and providing an abundance of caution by restricting access to that northeast corner," Ben Washburn, public affairs specialist for EPA Region 7, told Eureka-Wildwood Patch.
Washburn said an EPA team will be working on how best to dispose of soil from the spot. He said they will share a work plan for cleanup efforts with nearby residents and Wildwood city representatives.
This week's letter also stated EPA teams have collected groundwater from 13 monitoring wells located on and off Bryne's Strecker Forest acreage. The letter outlined: "All monitoring well results were below screening levels, except for monitoring well MW-6, which is located on the Bliss/Ellisville site to the east."
In addition to collecting groundwater samples, EPA experts determined groundwater flow was moving to the east-northeast area back to the NPL site—not toward Strecker Farms subdivision—which is good news for the residents living there.
See related 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