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Congressional District # 07


EPA ID# WID980902969
Last Updated: March, 2015

Site Description

The Spickler Landfill site is a former municipal and industrial dump site that is comprised of two fill areas totaling 10 acres on an 80-acre parcel of land. The site is located in a sparsely populated, rural area of Spencer, Wisconsin. In the 1960s, the landfill operated as a municipal open dump. In December 1970, BASF Wyandotte received approval from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) to construct an approximately 10,000-square foot, clay-lined sludge disposal area at the landfill for its mercury brine mud wastes. Other industrial wastes known to have been disposed of in the Spickler Landfill include kalo dust that contained asbestos (disposed of by Weyerhauser Company) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including toluene, xylenes, methyl-ethyl ketone, and methylene chloride (disposed of by Weinbrenner Shoe Company).

Property surrounding the landfill is mainly rural, but one home is located to the north of the landfill and two homes are located to the south and southwest of the landfill. The drinking water wells at the two homes to the south and southwest are tested regularly and have shown no contaminant levels above standards. The population of Spencer, as reported by the 2010 census, is slightly over 4,000 people. All residents use private well water. 

Site Responsibility

The Spickler Landfill site is being addressed by potentially responsible parties (PRPs) under federal and state oversight.

Threats and Contaminants

A remedial investigation was conducted at the Spickler Landfill site during the late 1980s. Sample results showed that landfill gas (methane) was detected on site and asbestos was confirmed to be present in a landfill cover soil sample. Leachate samples from the mercury brine pit contained elevated levels of calcium (3,340 ppm), magnesium (2,180 ppm), mercury (666 ppb), and nine organic compounds. Groundwater samples showed exceedences of federal Safe Drinking Water Act maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for the following chemicals: benzene (8 ppb), vinyl chloride (39 ppb), barium (4,690 ppb), copper (2,250 ppb), iron (4,280 ppb), and manganese (54 ppb). Later samples showed detections of methylene chloride, trichloroethene, and vinyl chloride as well.

Off-site groundwater samples collected from private wells did not detect any site-related compounds.

Potential health threats could be posed by people coming into contact with the mercury brine sludge or by drinking contaminated groundwater. However, these potential health threats have been addressed by the several cleanup actions that have been taken at the site (see "Cleanup Progress" section, below).

Cleanup Progress

Recent progress

Because wastes were left on site at the Spickler Landfill, EPA conducts a review of the site cleanup actions every five years ("five-year review" (FYR)) to ensure that the remedial action is protective. EPA will complete the next FYR at the Spickler Landfill in May 2015.

The most recent FYR reports were completed in 2005 and 2010. In the reports, EPA determined that the remedy at the Spickler Landfill site was functioning as planned and would continue to be protective of human health and the environment once recommended follow-up actions were taken. One of the recommendations was to continue groundwater monitoring and to evaluate the effectiveness of land-use restrictions. EPA's review of the land-use restrictions indicated that agreements related to two easements present on the property, one that was for a mineral lease and a second that related to a right-of-way for an oil pipeline located between the two main landfill areas, needed to be put into place. EPA negotiated agreements with the owner of the mineral lease as well as with the pipeline company to ensure that the requirements in the deed restrictions will be adhered to.

In 2010, the PRPs undertook a study of the methane gas being produced by the landfill. The results of the study did not indicate that landfill gas was migrating off-site; however, additional gas monitoring points were installed in 2011 so that conditions could be evaluated regularly. Groundwater is regularly monitored and tested. The most recent monitoring well sampling results show vinyl chloride, 1,2-dichloroethane, iron, and manganese to be present in a few on-site wells at concentrations slightly exceeding Wisconsin drinking water standards. However, concentrations of these compounds are consistent with previous results, and no increasing trends have been observed.

Historical information

On June 3, 1992, PRPs BASF, Weyerhauser, and Weinbrenner Shoe Company completed a remedial investigation and feasibility study at the Spickler Landfill site under an enforcement agreement with EPA. EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) on June 30, 1992, that required an upgrade of the existing landfill cap and the installation of leachate collection and landfill gas flare systems. EPA later issued a second ROD in 1998 to address groundwater contamination and to establish requirements for site close out.

The PRPs completed the cleanup action design on December 20, 1993, under an enforcement agreement with EPA and completed construction of the cleanup action under a separate enforcement order on September 29, 1995. The remedial actions eliminated the direct contact risks by capping the landfill areas and the mercury brine pit. Landfill gas was controlled by the installation of an active gas control system. A leachate collection system also mitigated the migration of contaminants to groundwater.

When EPA signed the second ROD in 1998, ten additional rounds of groundwater samples had been collected at the site. Some compounds were detected at concentrations slightly above Wisconsin drinking water standards in several on-site monitoring wells. Because the exceedences only occurred in on-site monitoring wells and the concentrations observed were relatively low and had been fairly consistent over the ten rounds of sampling, the 1998 ROD did not require active treatment of the groundwater. However, institutional controls (groundwater-use restrictions) were required to prevent ingestion of contaminated groundwater.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
mary tierney (tierney.mary@epa.gov)
(312) 886-4785

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
susan pastor
(312) 353-1325




Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.


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