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Congressional District # 10


EPA ID# MID069826170
Last Updated: March, 2012

Site Description

The South Macomb Disposal Authority (SMDA) site, located in Macomb County, Michigan, is a 159-acre site that is made up of two adjacent landfills used for the disposal of municipal waste. The landfills were operated by the SMDA and received approximately 1,880,000 cubic yards of municipal refuse from 1968 through 1975. Reportedly, no hazardous wastes were disposed of in the landfills; however, hazardous chemicals have been detected on and around the site. 

Investigations in 1971 by the state of Michigan concluded that leachate was discharging from the landfill to McBride Drain. The McBride Drain is an open channel that receives runoff from the site and flows to the North Branch of the Clinton River. Water sampling of residential drinking water wells near the site in 1983 and 1984 indicated contamination. Three groundwater aquifers are contaminated with ammonia, metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These aquifers are used as a drinking water source by a few of the nearby residents although most of the residents now get their drinking water from the municipal system.  Historically, frequent leachate outbreaks occurred along the eastern and southern perimeters of the landfills.

Site Responsibility

This site is being addressed through federal, state and potentially responsible party actions, and is considered a state enforcement lead site.

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater monitoring wells have detected the presence of VOCs, metals, ammonia and nitrate. Subsurface soils are contaminated with  metals and VOCs. The primary potential health risk to people includes drinking or coming into direct contact with contaminated groundwater. Other potential health threats include accidental ingestion of or direct contact with contaminated soil and the potential for landfill gas to migrate from the site and accumulate in nearby structres. 

Cleanup Progress

From 1977 to 1981, the SMDA installed leachate controls, including erosion control measures, soil covers for the landfill, and a leachate collection system. In late 1988, the SMDA extended the existing leachate collection system. Under an order from the Macomb County Circuit Court, the SMDA constructed a shallow leachate collection drain, bordered to the north by a slurry wall to contain and collect contaminated groundwater moving north. The state provided bottled water from 1983 to 1988 to the 12 residences where health advisories had been issued. The state of Michigan funded the extension of a municipal water system in 1988. Some residents in the area still rely on groundwater for their drinking water. 

In April 1991, the Macomb County Circuit Court ordered the SMDA to perform a Remedial Action (RA), which included construction of a slurry wall around the site, construction of a multi-media cap, leachate collection and treatment, and groundwater purging and treatment. The implementation of the work under the order was put on hold while the state and the SMDA negotiated a settlment. ial. 

A final cleanup decision for the groundwater was signed by United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) on August 13, 1991. On December 9, 1991, in an effort to consolidate enforcement action, U.S. EPA transferred the lead for site management to the state of Michigan. SMDA has made a claim that it does not have the ability to pay the entire $35 million dollar estimated cleanup costs. U.S. EPA analyzed SMDA's ability to pay and found that SMDA did not demonstrate an inability to pay for the cleanup. After extensive negotiation between the potentially responsible parties and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, a consent decree (CD) was finalized. The CD was lodged in Circuit Court on June 26, 2002. This decree included the final Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the site.

The RAP requires:

  1. analysis of leachate and groundwater contamination levels;
  2. determination and construction of the appropriate method(s) for leachate and contaminated groundwater management and disposal;
  3. construction of leachate and groundwater treatment systems;
  4. construction of groundwater extraction wells;
  5. installation of the leachate collectors;
  6. regrading of the landfills and improvements to the final cover;
  7. construction of the landfill gas venting system;
  8. monitoring of the effectiveness of the remediation action;
  9. long-term operation and maintenance of the remediation systems;
  10. placement of deed restrictions and institutional controls.

The Remedial Design and Remedial Action were completed in the summer of 2005 and documented in U.S. EPA's preliminary close-out report dated October 31, 2005.  SMDA continues to operate the leachate and groundwater collection and treatment system at the SMDA site and submit quarterly monitoring reports. In November 2006 it was determined that the initial remedial actions were not sufficient to meet the performance standards of the Consent Decree. In 2011 the MDEQ approved implementation of corrective actions intended to more completely capture the contaminated leachate and address the contaminated groundwater. This work includes construction of new leachate collection trenches and groundwater extraction wells and is expected to be completed in 2012. Monitoring will then be performed to assess the effectiveness of these actions and determine what additional actions (if any) may be needed to achieve the performance objectives.

The Site is being managed by the responsible parties through the oversight of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ or State). The SMDA is operating a water collection and pre-treatment system and is actively monitoring the site. The SMDA has also installed landfill vents and is monitoring the site perimeter for landfill gases. The State has concerns that the system at the site is not meeting the agreed upon performance standards for the site. They are having discussions with the SMDA as they develop additional plans to address this situation. The primary issue is that the contaminated groundwater that is migrating from the site is not fully controlled. The primary areas of concern are to the north and east of the landfills. There has been contaminant migration to the south in one area, but all site related contamination that has been detected has been north of 23 Mile Road.




Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
sheri bianchin (bianchin.sheri@epa.gov)
(312) 886-4745





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