In the past two years I have been trying to get the old LBL landfill cleaned up. I have contacted the state EPA on several occasions, and I did meet with Mr. Richy French a couple of times about the landfill and once about an oil dump.
In 1988, I was working with a dozer operator and we were cleaning a creek crossing where we were told to dig a big hole in a nearby field. Then an LBL pump truck brought in three loads of used oil, approximately 2,000 gallons, and pumped it in the hole. Then the dozer operator was told to fill in the hole and cover it up. In 1998 I reported the incident at a town meeting at Grand Rivers. The next day, Trudy Carr, an LBL environmental engineer, came to talk with me about this. I told here I considered this a hazardous waste site, and that I had heard all kinds of chemicals, such as 2,4-D, a component of agent orange, and 2,4,5-T had been dumped there. In addition there were lots of old tires, batteries, diesel fuel, gas, anti-freeze and 103 five gallon buckets of lead-based paint. I had talked directly with two eyewitnesses to all this.
Mrs. Carr asked me who she could contact to be sure that all this was so. I gave her two names, and these people came in and talked with her about the dumping that had occurred during the late 60s to early 80s. I was told by the EPA that this problem would be addressed by Mr. French, but that they could not clean it up because it would cost too much. They did say that they had other ways to take care of the problem.
I am not sure exactly what happened. I made several calls, but never reached him or had him return my calls. Then I called his supervisor and said I had been trying to get in touch with Mr. French. The next day Mr. French called and said that he had been real busy and had lost my phone number. He said he would be coming to LBL in a few days and that we could meet then. When he came, I showed him the oil dump area that had been planted to corn. He said he wold wait till the corn had been harvested and come back to address the issue. That never happened; so, in the fall, I again went with Trudy Carr and we marked the site. So far, nothing has been done. At the landfill, they did dig some test wells and capped it with about two feet of clay soil. They call it a cap; I call it a joke. I guess if you are TVA, and know the right people, you can get away with things like this. I keep wondering if this was private land would the EPA ignore it. I have seen service stations closed when the EPA said they were "not in compliance," even if there was no problem they or I could see (or smell).
I know this problem at LBL is nowhere near as big as the atomic plant; but it still seems to me it is a hazardous waste site; and should be treated as one. The state EPA requires core drilling to take samples down deep where the problem really lies. I don't understand why they ask people to report these things; then sweep them under the rug. I know it is hard to beat TVA in court; maybe that is what we should change.
After I had my meeting with Mrs. Carr, she asked me if I knew of any other problems. I told her about the old lagoon next to the landfill where loads of human waste were dumped daily. The leakage had been easy to see on the surface of the ground for years. I also mentioned that members of the press wanted pictures of this. A few days later, the access road was marked with a new sign: "CLOSED--AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY." There was also a new, locked cable across the road. They even sent a backhoe operator down there to dig a ditch deep enough to keep people from driving around the cable.
Since then, the trucks have been hauling the human waste to Aurora where they pay for dumping it. They have also built a new lagoon; but, so far, it is not in use. The management knew about all these problems, and probably some I don't know about. I believe the same thing would have happened at Hematite Dam if the press had not gotten involved. I know LBL ways warned in advance, more than once, that the dam was about to break. I doubt that they ever would have fixed it had there not been a last minute "amendment" to the LBL Protection Act that required them to do so. Now that the transfer from TVA to the Forest Service is taking place, it will be interesting to see if problems like this are handled better. Maybe they will not build landfills next to a large creek that drains directly into the lake. Maybe we should ask Mrs. Estill about how the Forest Service operations at LBL will be better than those of TVA. After all she was the General Manager of LBL during the 1980's. If she were so inclined, she could probably tell us a lot about what records were kept--and where they may be now. TVA says it cannot find them.
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