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ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTING & MANAGEMENT
ROUX ASSOCIATES INC 12 Gill Street, Suite 4700 Woburn, Massachusetts 01801 TEL 781-569-4000 FAX 781-569-4001
November 18, 2014
Mr. David J. Newton NH/RI Superfund Section U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100 Mail Code OSRR07-1 Boston, Massachusetts 02109
Re: Proposed Plan for Operable Unit 2 Peterson/Puritan Superfund Site Cumberland/Lincoln, Rhode Island
Dear Mr. Newton:
On behalf of Teknor Apex Company (Teknor Apex), Roux Associates is submitting the following comments regarding the Proposed Plan for Operable Unit 2 (OU2) of the Peterson/Puritan Superfund Site in Cumberland and Lincoln, Rhode Island (Site). As you are aware, Teknor Apex has been named as a potentially responsible party (PRP) for OU2 of the Site; further, Teknor Apex is a member of the Joint Defense Group for OU2 and expects to be one of the performing parties likely to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for cleanup of OU2. Consequently, Teknor Apex has a significant interest in the selection of a remedy for OU2 that provides adequate protection to human health and the environment yet does so in a manner and at a cost commensurate with actual risks. In this regard, Teknor Apex has contributed to and approved the comments on the Proposed Plan prepared on behalf of the Joint Defense Group by Woodard & Curran and submitted to EPA on November 4, 2014. However, because Teknor Apex was not a signatory to the agreement with EPA for performance of the remedial investigation (RI) and feasibility study (FS)—and thus was not a performing party for the RI and FS—it has therefore authorized Roux Associates to provide independent comments on behalf of Teknor Apex alone, dealing specifically with the FS and the portion of the Proposed Plan relating to containment of the waste in the J.M. Mills Landfill portion of OU2.
The comments being submitted by Roux Associates on behalf of Teknor Apex mirror, to a large degree, several of the comments being submitted on behalf of the Joint Defense Group. More specifically, as set forth in more detail below, we believe that the Proposed Plan is factually incorrect in places (and thus provides a misleading impression to the public) and that the selected alternative for capping of the J.M. Mills Landfill is (1) not sufficiently justified from both technical and regulatory perspectives and (2) more conservative than necessary to address the level of risk at the Site (and thus unnecessarily destructive to the environment). But furthermore, we believe that the FS (which served as the basis for the Proposed Plan) overlooked a third option for capping of the J.M. Mills Landfill, i.e., in addition to the options included
Mr. David J. Newton November 18, 2014 Page 2
in Alternatives JM-SO-2 (RCRA Subtitle C Cap of Whole Landfill) and JM-SO-3 (Combination RCRA Subtitle C Cap [top]/Perimeter Soil Cap [side slopes], also referred to as “The Hybrid Cap”).1 More specifically, we are of the opinion that an alternative featuring an evapotranspiration (ET) cap should also have been considered and subjected to detailed evaluation during the FS and, in any event, should be considered at this time. To address this omission in the FS—but by no means detracting from the merits of the Joint Defense Group’s arguments for the Hybrid Cap—Roux Associates has included within its comments being submitted on behalf of Teknor Apex both general and site-specific information supporting selection of an ET cap as an alternative approach for capping of the J.M. Mills Landfill. As demonstrated herein, an ET cap would meet all of the remedial action objectives for the J.M. Mills Landfill and provide the necessary protectiveness without the adverse impacts to aesthetics that would come with a conventional RCRA Subtitle C cap; it would also result in less truck traffic in the community, would require less long-term maintenance, and would have a much smaller carbon footprint than a RCRA Subtitle C cap. In fact, as an ET cap would provide even greater—although not necessarily warranted—protection against infiltration and potential leachate generation compared to the Hybrid Cap and, at the same time, would result in less impact to the surrounding community and less long term loss of riverbank and upland habitat relative to the RCRA Subtitle C cap, we believe an ET cap provides EPA with a reasonable compromise between the two remedial alternatives for the J.M. Mills Landfill currently “on the table,” thus better balancing regulatory requirements and public concern.
Comments Regarding Proposed Plan
1. The Proposed Plan is factually incorrect in places and is thus misleading to the public. More specifically, the Proposed Plan incorrectly states in multiple places (including but not limited to pages 1, 7, 10, and 27) that hazardous waste was disposed of in the J.M. Mills Landfill. On the contrary, by (1) indicating in meetings and discussions with the performing parties for the FS that the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle C requirements for the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste (40 CFR Part 264) are not “applicable” for cleanup of the J.M. Mills Landfill, (2) indicating in the FS report (Section 126.96.36.199.2) that “relevant and appropriate hazardous waste landfill closure standards will be the primary standards used to design, construct and maintain the landfill cap,” and (3) indicating in the FS report tables (e.g., Table I-5b) that certain RCRA Subtitle C and analogous state regulations are “relevant and appropriate,” rather than “applicable,” EPA has, in effect, acknowledged that hazardous waste was not disposed of in the J.M. Mills Landfill (or that insufficient evidence exists to make an affirmative determination that hazardous waste was disposed of in the J.M. Mills Landfill). This distinction is important because it means that the cap for the J.M. Mills Landfill does not necessarily have to meet all RCRA Subtitle C landfill closure requirements (40 CFR 264.310), only those that are “relevant and appropriate.” This point is discussed further in comment #3 below.
We have excluded the No Action Alternative (JM-SO-1) from this discussion.
ROUX ASSOCIATES, INC. 2006.0001M002.100/L
Mr. David J. Newton November 18, 2014 Page 3
2. The selected alternative for capping of the J.M. Mills Landfill (JM-SO-2) is not sufficiently justified from a technical perspective. In the Proposed Plan, EPA claims that Alternative JM-SO-2, which includes a full RCRA Subtitle C cap for the J.M. Mills Landfill, is the only alternative that will be fully protective of human health and the environment and that, conversely, Alternative JM-SO-3 (which includes the Hybrid Cap) is not fully protective because “it does not establish a completely protective physical barrier between potential receptors and contaminated materials in soil and waste, does not fully reduce the infiltration and the potential for leaching of contaminants in soil to groundwater, does not fully address potential landfill gas releases, and does not ensure that contamination is not eroded or washed out of the J.M. Mills Landfill during any flood, up to a 500-year event.” However, nowhere does EPA adequately support their claim that the Hybrid Cap is not fully protective, either in the Proposed Plan or the FS report:
• With regard to EPA’s contention that Alternative JM-SO-3 does not establish a completely protective physical barrier between potential receptors and contaminated materials in soil and waste, EPA does not clearly indicate how the Hybrid Cap is not a completely protective barrier. For example, Section 188.8.131.52 of the FS report states that “[Alternative JM-SO-3] provides protection to human health by preventing or controlling potential exposures to waste and contaminated soils through . . . installation of a RCRA Subtitle C Cap on the upper one-third of the J.M. Mills Landfill and a perimeter soil cap over the lower two-thirds of the J.M. Mills Landfill.” However, without any basis provided, Table 6-7 of the FS report indicates that Alternative JM-SO-3 “would not fully prevent exposure to receptor[s] in the soil cap area” and “would not be effective in preventing exposure to receptors in the soil cap area.” Similarly, Section 184.108.40.206.1 of the FS report states, again without basis or explanation, “The installation of the hybrid landfill cap . . . will place a limited physical barrier between potential receptors and contaminated materials in soil and waste to reduce the potential exposure pathway” (emphasis added). On the contrary, there is nothing “limited” about the hybrid cap when it comes to preventing exposure to the waste and contaminated soil in the J.M. Mills Landfill. In fact, soil caps similar to that included in Alternative JM-SO-3 are routinely used by EPA and state environmental agencies such as the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) to cap landfills and other areas where exposure to waste and contaminated soil must be eliminated.
In searching the FS report for the basis of EPA’s assertion that the Hybrid Cap is not a completely protective barrier, we noted that in Section 220.127.116.11.3, the FS report states that Alternative JM-SO-3 may not eliminate the potential for direct contact with contaminants in soil/landfill debris by a receptor because the perimeter soil cap may not prevent the release of contaminants in the ev