Friday, June 21, 2013

Metro Water claims to monitor runoff of their shrinking petroleum pile while they continue to fill their basement with toxic debris

Nothing now seems to be stopping Metro Water from landfilling incinerator debris and possibly contaminated soil a block or two outside my neighborhood and on the Cumberland River watershed. With military-like efficiency they are moving this dumping project toward its end and burying dreggy remnants underground. And there is no observable resistance.

I took the following pictures yesterday. In the first one, the pile of dirt excavated a decade ago from the biosolids facility site and put on a parking lot for remediation of hazardous levels of petroleum--with no explanation of where the fuel came from--is being moved by construction crews. All the vegetation that was growing on it is gone and the hill is shrinking.

What's left of the petroleum pile, 06/20/2013

In the second photo, construction crews have recommenced filling Metro Water Services' new landfill (an old basement) with incinerator debris. And there are fresh piles of fill dirt. It is fair to gather (until I hear otherwise) that the dirt is coming from across the street, from the petroleum pile.

The landfill, 06/20/2013

After a long wait for answers to my questions about the storm drain at the foot of the petroleum pile--and I did confirm it is a storm drain, which means it runs straight to the Cumberland--Metro Water officials replied to me that indeed, runoff from the pile "may drain in that direction". They also claimed that MWS employees monitor the runoff during rain events. Employees "grab" a sample "at each outfall". Then they "visually inspect" the sample for "oily sheens, cloudiness, coloring, and odor". MWS insists that they have found no signs of fuel contamination in the runoff from the pile. They also maintain that the weeds and trees growing on the pile would have showed signs of distress if petroleum were present in high amounts.

I am just a layperson but this strikes me as a rather unscientific means of testing for petroleum in stormwater runoff. And the claim that they have tested an overgrown pile abandoned on a remote lot during every rain event for a decade defies common sense.

The clock seems to be running out on this contest. Council member Erica Gilmore is traveling all of June, and she never got back to me in May before she left about this problem. When I contacted the person in her office that her vacation notice said to contact, I had to send two emails to get the clipped, nebulous reply that they are "communicating by phone" and doing so "with representatives". Yeah, I have no idea what that means.

In the meantime, there remain unanswered questions:

  • If the dirt going into the landfill is from the petroleum pile, has it been tested for levels of fuel?
  • Was the private contractor paid ahead of time to remove the petroleum pile in 2004? If so, what is Metro doing to get that money back to avoid taxpayers from having to pay for removal twice?
  • Did Erica Gilmore ever follow through with her commitment to try to get money to haul debris out?
  • Why is Metro allowed to dump debris underground on public land when private developers are not allowed to do the same? Why is Metro Codes allowing this? Why is the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods not standing up for my neighborhood on this one?
  • Why is Salemtown Neighbors Neighborhood Association sitting this dance out?

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