KeepHealthCare.ORG – Consultant doing bedrock study has ties to Coakley Landfill Group – News – fosters.com
PORTSMOUTH — A deep bedrock study that could be critical to deciding what if anything federal and state regulators will require the Coakley Landfill Group to do about contaminants at the site is being conducted by a firm that has a long history with the group.
The study to try to determine how water is flowing from the site in deep bedrock is being conducted by Mike Deyling of CES, Inc. An examination of CLG minutes from 2012 to 2018 shows the group has paid CES, Inc., and Summit Engineering, which Deyling formerly owned, close to $700,000 for their work at the Superfund cleanup site in Greenland and North Hampton.
City Attorney Robert Sullivan, who also chairs the CLG’s executive committee, acknowledged the group has used Deyling’s companies extensively during the past several years. He also acknowledged the companies have been paid a substantial sum of money over those years.
“It’s very expensive to do this kind of consulting work for a Superfund site,” Sullivan said this week.
The CLG is made up of municipalities and private companies that used the landfill or transported waste there. They are required to pay for the cleanup of the now closed landfill. Portsmouth, and by extension its taxpayers, bears the biggest share of the remediation costs at 53.6 percent.
Deyling, who is vice president of CES, Inc., has more than 35 years of experience “in the management of hydrogeological site investigations and remedial action programs,” according to his company’s website. In addition to his company’s consulting work, Deyling has sometimes appeared at public meetings with Sullivan representing the CLG, including during an appearance at a City Council meeting earlier this year.
He also attended a recent meeting with federal and state regulators in Portsmouth concerning the investigation, according to copies of the meeting’s minutes provided by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The CLG paid CES, Inc. $135,000 in 2016, $266,165 in 2017 and $115,121 so far in 2018, according to CLG meeting minutes.
Sullivan stressed this week that the CLG’s relationship with the consultants is not relevant to the deep bedrock study they will be conducting.
“It’s not that important what the Coakley Landfill Group thinks. What’s important is what DES (the state Department of Environmental Services) and EPA think,” Sullivan said of Deyling’s work on the deep bedrock study. “The decisions are very technical in nature and based upon science and hydrology and the study will be evaluated by the regulators.”
Many people living around the landfill in Greenland and North Hampton are worried dangerous chemicals leaching from the landfill will contaminate their residential drinking wells. Monitoring wells at the landfill detected 1,4-dioxane at levels above the EPA’s health advisory level and PFOS levels as high as 1,108 parts per trillion. Both chemicals are suspected carcinogens. The health advisory for PFOS and PFOA is 70 parts per trillion.
Tests in Berry Brook near the landfill found levels of PFAS chemicals in surface water nearly three times higher than the health advisory level for groundwater. But no private wells have tested above the health advisory level.
The landfill accepted waste from 1972 to 1982 and then incinerator waste until 1985. It was capped in 1998.
DES officials asked the CLG to put in a treatment system to stop contaminants from reaching Berry Brook, but the group refused.
The EPA, which could order the CLG to treat the brook or the contaminants in groundwater on the landfill, has said right now it doesn’t believe the contaminants pose a immediate threat to public health.
The deep bedrock study in part will try to determine if there’s a pathway or pathways deeper in the bedrock that could take contaminants from the site to the nearby residential wells.
State Rep. Mindi Messmer, D-Rye, has pushed for CLG to install a pump and treat system on the site and to run municipal water to the homes around the landfill. Messmer this week called for “a third party independent review” of the deep bedrock study which CES, Inc. will conduct.
“They are not an objective group,” she said. “I think there needs to be an independent review of their conclusions.”
She noted University of New Hampshire professor and hydrologist Tom Ballestero has said the Coakley landfill could be the source of PFAS chemicals that have contaminated an Aquarion Water Co. well in Hampton.
Deyling has said he believes that is nearly impossible.
Either way, Messmer said this week, she is not holding out much hope for the bedrock study.
“I don’t think it makes a bit of difference, it’s just a delay tactic,” she said. “The way they’re (DES and EPA) approaching it right now unless there’s a detection above the advisory level they’re not going to do anything.”