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No contaminants found in wells near landfill

Seneca County commissioners received a report Thursday regarding well testing near Sunny Farms Landfill that shows no ground water contamination.

The report was presented by Ben Nutter, director of community relations for Sunny Farms Landfill, during the public comment portion of the meeting.

He provided the commissioners with a letter from Laura Wallrabenstein, director of environmental health for Seneca County General Health District, that said 14 private wells had been sampled April 1 with a 1.5-mile radius of the landfill for nutrients, metals, PCBs and VOCs.

“Alloway labs provided all of the testing/results,” Wallrabenstein said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

“There were no detection of VOCs or PCBs and no detection of any metals or nutrients that exceeded any primary or secondary drinking water standards,” she said in the letter.

“For decades, we have had a water testing program around the landfill,” Wallrabenstein said as background Thursday afternoon. “There were nine wells we would test every quarter.”

As part of the hosting agreement through Ottawa Sandusky Seneca Joint Solid Waste District, she said the landfill has provided $5,000 per year to pay for that testing.

“It was all laid out in there many years ago,” she said.

Until 2013, she said the National Center for Water Quality Research provided the testing for “a good price” because the lab had the equipment needed.

However, the lab’s equipment for testing VOCs – volatile organic carbons such as toluene and substances found in gasoline or diesel – stopped working in 2013 so the VOC testing was stopped.

She said arsenic sometimes had shown elevated levels, but nothing really high.

“I never had reason to believe it was directly caused by the landfill,” she said.

Recently, she said residents were upset because VOC testing had been stopped and requested VOC and PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) testing because of alleged PCB-contaminated soil being added to the landfill.

At a recent health board meeting, she said she asked people to sign up for free well tests if they wished. After doing some research, she said the health department contracted with Alloway lab to do the testing.

She decided to continue tests on the nine wells already being tested regularly and add five more within a 1.5-mile radius for full testing, which cost $507 per well for a total of more than $7,000.

“Then we still had people who had signed up and we wanted to accommodate them,” she said.

An additional 20 wells were tested for metals and nutrients at $212 per well, or a total of $4,200.

“That clearly way exceeded my budget of $5,000,” she said. But the health board agreed to subsidize the tests from other funds.

Future testing has not yet been decided, she said.

“The $5,000 we get to pay for it isn’t going to cover it,” she said.

She said the health department must decide how frequently to test in the future.

“That’s kind of in limbo right now,” she said.

In addition, she said four tests were conducted of surface water and sediment at the landfill at the request of residents who attended health board meetings.

“Even though it was surface water, there was nothing in it of concern,” she said.

She said the results of three of the four sediment samples have been returned, and nothing out of the ordinary was found.

She said there are no standards for sediment.

“There were no VOCs or PCBs,” she said “There were metals.”

She said she isn’t sure yet if the metals found are naturally occurring because of local geology.

“You would expect metals,” she said. “They come from rocks.”

However, she said the samples have been sent to another testing lab for another opinion.

During the meeting, Nutter said the landfill’s checks also have shown no contamination.

“We’ll accept responsibility for the things we didn’t do very well,” he said. “But we will not accept the responsibility for the things we did not do.”

Nutter also reported odors from the landfill have been reduced.

“I’m happy to report we’re no longer emitting anything that smells bad,” he said. “For three weeks now in a row we haven’t had any exceedances at all.”

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