Contaminated Groundwater at North Smithfield Superfund Site Reaches New Levels

By ecoRI News staff

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. — The owner/operators and parties responsible for hazardous substance disposal at the Landfill & Resource Recovery Superfund site have agreed to perform and pay for an investigation and study to evaluate the extent of, and clean-up options for, contaminated groundwater at the site.

Until 2014, groundwater samples collected in the monitoring wells at the edge of the landfill generally showed declining concentrations of contaminants. Last year, however, groundwater samples further down-gradient of the landfill found contaminant concentrations exceeding acceptable levels for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and arsenic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In addition, 1,4-dioxane, a contaminant newly identified at the site, was found at elevated levels in the groundwater and in surface water near the landfill, according to the EPA. No site-related contamination was found in nearby residential drinking water wells, which will continue to be monitored as a precaution, the EPA said.

“The parties responsible for polluting must take responsibility for finding out how far the contamination goes and the best way to clean it,” Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office, said. “Over the years, EPA has worked to address contamination at this site, and this agreement will help ensure the cleaning up of pollution caused by the landfill.”

The 28-acre site was listed on the National Priorities List of Superfund sites in 1982. Now an inactive landfill, it historically received domestic, commercial and industrial wastes, including materials in liquid, sludge and solid forms. Since the early 1990s, the responsible parties have been cleaning up the site under EPA and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management oversight, including the installation of a landfill cap and a flare to control air emissions.