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The Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District will be holding its first meeting of the year this Thursday at 10 a.m. in Harrison’s City Hall.
The meeting, which was pushed for by Mountain Home Mayor Hillrey Adams, will allow the district the opportunity to elect a new board chairman now that former Bull Shoals Mayor David Dixon is out of office.
Following that election, Adams will push for a discussion on the NABORS landfill sale that has received a large amount of public outrage. Adams has been one of the most outspoken mayors in the district against the board and introduced a resolution against the sale during Mountain Home’s last City Council session.
That resolution passed unanimously. The Baxter County Quorum Court has also joined Mountain Home in passing its own resolution against the sale.
The Friends of the North Fork & White Rivers, an environmentalist group here in Baxter County also played a role in getting those resolutions passed and have been instrumental in getting information about the sale out to the public. The group is also currently discussing a potential lawsuit against the district to reveal more details about the sale.
They have retained attorney Richard Mays to make their case against the landfill sale.
Since the passing of those resolutions, there has been little news coming out of the district, ADEQ or LRS, the company seeking to buy out the landfill. Most phone calls and emails have gone unanswered, including calls to DBH Management Consultants, a lobbyist firm in Arkansas that has been quietly campaigning on behalf of LRS.
ADEQ has publicly stated that LRS is still conducting a private survey on the landfill and that no changes to the landfills permits would be authorized without a period of public comment.
The news of the sale has finally begun to reach national news, with National Public Radio (NPR) airing its own investigative piece over the air on Tuesday. That report can be found here.
If the sale permit were to be signed by LRS, it would transfer ownership of the landfill to them for a mere $500,000 and would open up several opportunities for the company to begin applying for permits to open new cells within the landfill. The agreement would also allow the state, which is currently responsible for monitoring the site and what could be potentially leaking beneath it, off the hook if any harmful or damaging hazardous substance is discovered at the site.
Under the section titled “Purchaser’s Indemnity,” LRS would agree to “defend, protect, indemnify and hold Seller and every other Indemnified Party harmless from and against any and all Indemnified Losses incurred by Seller or such other Indemnified Party.”
That defense would cover hazardous substances “present or alleged” at the landfill and whether or not those substances were “produced, stored, used, or transported in compliance with applicable Environmental Laws.”
The deal would also see that the Seller and the Indemnified Parties shall “have no liability or responsibility for damage or injury to human health, the environment or natural resources caused by, for abatement and/or clean-up of, or otherwise with respect to, Hazardous Substances by virtue of the prior ownership and interest of the Seller.”
While the sale agreement is designed to get the state and the district off the hook for what has been leaking at NABORS landfill, current reports from ADEQ may give both parties some difficulty in court if they are sued over the landfill sale.
In October, Harbor Environmental and Safety provided ADEQ with the results of a monitoring event. The 595 page survey, which is provided below, shows that the NABORS landfill currently has 24 two-inch PVC monitoring wells, along with 13 documented springs and seeps.
During the course of that survey, which was not able to survey every site due to low water levels from dry conditions, it was revealed that the NABORS landfill is producing several carcinogens above approved levels by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As detailed in the survey, all results were compared to the U.S. EPA National Primary Drinking Water Regulations – Maximum Containment Levels (MCLs) and the National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations secondary maximum containment levels (SMCLs).
MCLs are legally enforceable standards that were designed to protect public health by limiting the levels of contaminants in drinking water. SMCLs are non-enforceable contaminant levels that cover 15 contaminants. SMCLs were established to give guidelines over aesthetic considerations, such as taste and color, of public drinking water.
A third standard, called Regional Screening Levels (RSLs), are also used in the survey. RSLs were created by the EPA to use in lieu or in addition to of MCLs. They are used for comparison purposes for regional tap water.
The October report states that Sulfate was detected at a concentration of 274 mg/L, which is above the 250 mg/L level for SMCL.
TDS levels, or total dissolved solids, also clocked in above recommended SMCL levels in several testing locations.
Arsenic, which can cause cancer with repeated exposure, was detected in every monitoring well and spring samples at concentrations that exceeded regional standards. Arsenic levels in samples from CAO-1, MW-1, MW-1R, NAB-2, and Spring SP-7 all exceeded the legally enforceable MCL level for arsenic.
Cadmium, another carcinogenic, was found to have exceeded the recommended MCL at MW-509D. Vinyl Chloride also exceeded MCL levels at sites MW-1 and MW-1R.
Arsenic, Cadmium, Colbalt, Iron, Manganese, Thallium, Benzene, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, 1,1 dichloroethane, methyl-tert-butyl, and trichloroethene all exceeded RSL levels in certain testing sites.
According to velocity rates for groundwater carrying contaminants like those listed above, groundwater was averaging 1.57 feet of travel per day at Area 1-2 and 2.11 feet per day at Area 1-3.
This continues to be a developing story. No official sale paperwork has been filed in Baxter County at time of writing.