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Thursday, June 20, 2013

State: Town dumped material without permits

As published in the Record Journal Thursday June 20, 2013

By Eric Heredia
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2243
Twitter: @EHerediaRJ

WALLINGFORD - The state filed a notice of violations with the town last week over the dumping of waste in April at the Department of Public Works storage area on North Turnpike Road. The area is in an aquifer protection zone, and the waste, which included some oily substances, raised concerns about potential effects on ground water and nearby wetlands.

The notice says that the Emergency Incident Field Report confirms that a town truck transported solid waste that was dumped at 91 North Turnpike Road, a town storage area also known as “the dog pit.” The DEEP said in late April that the material, including the oily substances, tested as nonhazardous, according to state standards.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Dennis Schain said Wallingford Public Works crews were moving materials collected during various cleanup and maintenance activities and stockpiling them at 91 North Turnpike Road, which is a solid waste permitting violation.

“They don’t have proper permits and authority to bring those materials to that address,” Schain said. Dumping activities have since been shut down.

He said DEEP has already discussed the issue with town officials. The town is now required to put the material into containers and send it to a commercial landfill.

Though the material was ruled nonhazardous, Wallingford’s aquifer regulations identify hazardous materials as “any oil or petroleum” as identified by state statute. The level of Extractable Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons in the material was 1,682 milligrams per kilograms, higher than the reporting level of 50.

State statute requires anyone who unloads oil, petroleum or chemical liquids to report the spill or unloading. Any person who fails to make a report may be fined up to $1,000, and the employer maybe fined up to $5,000. The town has 30 days to respond to DEEP in writing about compliance, Schain said. A civil penalty up to $25,000 is applicable to the violation, however, Schain said that if municipalities work with DEEP, fines normally aren’t imposed.

Wallingford resident William Comerford noticed the material at 91 North Turnpike Road on April 8 and reported it to Environmental Planner Erin O’Hare. Comerford said he took a video of what he found that day.

Comerford brought the video to the attention of the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission during its meeting June 5. Commissioner Jim Heilman wanted to see the video, but Chairman Jim Vitale thought the video should go to DEEP and chose not to show it.

“The gentleman had information I felt was important ... he was describing a situation of potentially significant impact to wetlands and the public water supply, possibly an intentional release,” Heilman said.

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said the only issue that’s important about the spill is that the material was nonhazardous.

Comerford filed another complaint over 91 North Turnpike Road with O’Hare on May 30, saying that he saw a sheen at the base of the wetlands. O’Hare went to the site that day and again June 4. She saw what DEEP determined to be a naturally-occurring bacteria common in wetlands and landfills.

She saw no obvious evidence of release and saw no dead vegetation, which would have been a clear sign of contamination.

Joseph Mrowzowski of the Water Division also went to the site, and O’Hare said he determined that there was no contamination in the wetlands and no need to test the water levels. Water Division General Manager Roger Dann confirmed that.