The Coakley Landfill Superfund Site is situated in southeastern New Hampshire within the towns of Greenland and North Hampton. From 1972 until 1985, the Site was an active landfill. The New Hampshire Waste Management Division estimated that the landfill received approximately 120 tons of refuse per day prior to July 1982, and approximately 90 tons per day after July 1982. Refuse deposited at the Site included municipal and industrial wastes from the Portsmouth area and residue from the Incineration-Resource Recovery Plant located at Pease Air Force Base.
The predominant classes of compounds related to waste disposal activities at the Site were volatile organic compounds and metals. Approximately one-fifth of the 183-acre wetland complex abutting the Site contained elevated levels of metals in surface waters or sediments. Surface waters contained lead, zinc and aluminum. Sediments contained lead, mercury and nickel.
Wetlands adjacent to the Site include forested, scrub shrub, emergent, open water, and riparian types. These wetland types are used by numerous migratory birds, including wading birds and dabbling ducks. The landfill and adjacent wetlands form the headwaters for four small streams: Berry’s Brook, Bailey’s Brook, North Brook and the Little River. All of the streams discharge into the Atlantic Ocean less than 9 kilometers downstream from the Site. Berry’s Brook has established populations of alewife, blueback herring and both natural and hatchery-reared sea-run brown trout. Impairment of wetland habitats and the services they provide, either through food web contamination, or the reduction and/or loss of their biological diversity and productivity, has occurred due to metal contamination. In turn, injury to wetland-dependant wildlife, primarily migratory birds, has occurred because of the loss of wetland habitats.
Final Landfill Cap, Credit: USEPA