The Waste, Inc. Landfill (“Site”) accepted approximately 128,000 tons of commercial, industrial and hazardous waste, discovered to be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), heavy metals, and organic solvents between 1965 and 1982. The landfill was unlined and located on sandy surface soil. Liquid wastes drained through this soil, into underground aquifers partially bounded by sub-surface clay layers. The landfill did not have dikes to control and localize runoff, which resulted in runoff being washed into Trail Creek and associated riparian wetlands with overland water flow. The nature and extent of contamination attributable to the Site was evaluated by sampling and analyzing soil, leachate, storm runoff, groundwater, Trail Creek surface water and Trail Creek sediment. Results indicated that hazardous substances had been and were being released from the Site to the surrounding environment.
Hazardous substances were released from the Site for years without being contained or detoxified. The investigation described above clearly indicate that trust resources were injured as a result of activities that occurred on the Site. In particular, the detection of Site-related hazardous substances in off-site soil, groundwater, surface water and sediments, and the toxicity of Site discharge to aquatic organisms indicate that on-site activities have resulted in degradation of water quality, sediment quality, biological resources and overall habitat quality of Trail Creek habitats. Continued chronic adverse effects can be expected for aquatic resources due to the long-term presence of site-related contaminants in the environment. Remedial actions required by EPA and DEM addressed the clean-up of the Site, but did not address the restoration of off-site natural resources that had been injured as a result of on-site activities. Thus, contaminants remain in the associated off-site wetland, in-stream and riparian habitats even after remedial actions were completed.
Injury to trust resources resulting from this contamination encompasses the full complement of resources associated with riparian habitats. The habitats injured as a result of these discharges provided food, shelter, breeding areas, and other essential services for the survival of trust wildlife resources.