A Long Road to NFA, CNS

08.02.19   Keith B. Egan, CP#259 | More by this Author

A Long Road to NFA, CNS

With a bit of help from SME, the former Rittman Paperboard Waste Water Treatment Lagoons and Landfill in Rittman, Ohio are well on their way to a new life as a community park.

The path to redevelopment was long and difficult. SME began addressing serious issues at the site in 2014 and had to overcome several hurdles to obtain a No Further Action (NFA) and Covenant Not to Sue (CNS).

Impact on the Groundwater
The landfill owner was issued a court order to either prove it had not impacted the groundwater or remediate it. The Ohio EPA was certain the on-site monitoring wells were compromised, allowing rainwater to infiltrate and “dilute” the regional aquifer and masking the impact of what Ohio defines as non-hazardous chemicals.

SME and the owner negotiated with the state to address the court order under the Voluntary Action Program (VAP). Using the VAP significantly reduced long-term closure costs for the landfill.

Integrity of the Wells
The Ohio EPA was convinced arsenic in groundwater originated from the landfill and had been increasing with time. To demonstrate that the landfill was not the source, SME’s VAP Certified Professional, Keith Egan, first established that the arsenic levels actually should increase after the factory quit withdrawing water from the regional aquifer due to geochemical reactions that occur as the aquifer began to refill with water. After that, we proved the arsenic and non-hazardous chemicals in groundwater were consistent with regional background levels and did not require remediation. Part of our argument hinged on whether the two groundwater systems were hydraulically connected. The state wanted pump tests generating thousands of gallons of water. Rather than performing this costly analysis, we used historical groundwater levels from the industrial extraction wells and groundwater levels in the monitoring wells to prove there was no connection. This data also helped prove the integrity of the wells.

A Change in Plans
We demonstrated the safety of the property to human receptors was based on commercial/industrial use. After the original NFA letter was submitted, the owner sold the land to the city for redevelopment as a park for recreational use. At that point the industrial waste water lagoons became “important ecological receptors” and the surface water and sediment now had to meet recreational direct contact standards and ecological risk criteria. SME’s Keith Egan negotiated directly with the Ohio EPA and obtained an agreement that if fishing was banned until the sediment and surface water met criteria, a short-term monitoring approach could be used to satisfy the VAP requirements. The NFA letter was revised to include an Operations and Maintenance Plan for the park that included -biological indices monitoring.

On April 30, 2019, the Ohio EPA accepted Mr. Egan’s No Further Action (NFA) Letter and issued a Covenant Not to Sue (CNS).

SME’s Keith Egan has received CNS on eight other VAP sites and has written numerous NFA letters that did not seek CNS. For more information on this project or the NFA process, contact Keith.

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