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EPA and partners celebrate redevelopment at Charles George Landfill Superfund Site

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Emily Bender (

Boston - The Charles George Reclamation Trust Landfill Superfund site, a former landfill, is now home to a new solar facility. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oversaw the cleanup of the 70-acre Superfund site, which was capped in 1990, preventing any exposure to contaminants and reducing leachate generation.

One of EPA's goals is to return superfund sites to productive reuse by implementing a cleanup that is protective of human health and the environment. In this case, the landfill cap was built in 1990 to contain hazardous material coming from the municipal landfill. In 2015, the Town of Tyngsborough reached an agreement with Citizens Energy Corporation to build a solar complex on the landfill cap.

EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection coordinated closely with the Town and Citizens Energy to ensure the solar complex would not compromise the cleanup in anyway. For example, EPA ensured that no construction operations would puncture the landfill's cap. Only low ground-pressure vehicles were used during the project construction and a survey to monitor for contamination was completed before and after construction.

The end result of this public-private partnership is a 3.56 megawatt solar plant. It supplies electricity for about three-hundred homes.

"Redeveloping the Charles George Landfill Superfund site into a solar field returns an otherwise empty piece of land with use restrictions to productive use for the Town," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. "This public private partnership is an important step to successful redevelopment."

The Charles George Reclamation Trust Landfill Superfund site is located a mile southwest of Tyngsborough, Mass. From 1955 until 1967, town contractors operated a small municipal landfill on site. An individual purchased the property in 1967 and sold it to the Charles George Land Reclamation Trust in 1971. In 1973, the Massachusetts Division of Water Pollution Control issued a permit to the Trust to handle hazardous wastes as well as municipal and domestic refuse. In 1983, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP) identified contamination in nearby residential wells and ordered site operators to close the landfill.

EPA testing found volatile organic compounds and metals in soil, groundwater, air and sediment. The contamination was a result of leachate collection system failures, inadequate landfill cover material to prevent infiltration of precipitation, and landfill erosion. EPA added the site to the Superfund program's National Priorities List in 1983. EPA supplied nearby residents with a temporary water supply, installed a security fence and gas vents at the landfill, and regraded the landfill to cover exposed refuse. After 1984, EPA provided residents with a permanent alternative water supply, collected and treated landfill leachate and gas, and addressed contaminated groundwater. EPA finished construction of the site's remedy in September 1998. MassDEP took over operation and maintenance responsibilities in 2009.