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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The Rose Hill Landfill and West Kingston Town Dump are among three Superfund sites in Rhode Island that the EPA said recently completed five-year cleanup reviews.

This was the third such five-year review for both sites, according to the EPA.

The Superfund program, a federal program established by Congress in 1980, investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country and helps return them to productive use.

In total, there are 13 Superfund sites across Rhode Island. The third site to complete a recent five-year review was Stamina Mills, Inc., in North Smithfield.

State officials hailed the completion of the EPA’s review work.

“DEM is pleased that these reviews have confirmed that the remedies continue to protect human health and the environment,” Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit said. “We also are excited that two of the sites, Rose Hill Landfill and the West Kingston Dump/URI Disposal Area, are continuing to support Rhode Island’s clean energy goals with over 28 acres of solar panels that power municipal and school buildings in South Kingstown.”

Coit also commended South Kingstown for participating in a statewide debris management plan and using a part of the Rose Hill site for staging of catastrophic storm-related debris.

“All these measures promote climate resilience on formerly contaminated and underused Superfund sites – and that is all upside,” Coit said.

Two decades after the Rose Hill Landfill was named a Superfund site, a four-year, $14.5 million cleanup of the area was completed in 2012.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named the 70-acre municipal landfill to its National Superfund Priority List in 1989, after the discovery of industrial waste contamination in the ground and surface waters. The rehabilitated 45-acre section was used as the municipal landfill and an industrial waste dumping ground from 1967 to 1983.

The cleanup was paid for under the terms of a settlement agreement signed in 1999. Federal and state government split the cost, with South Kingstown and Narragansett reimbursing the state for 30 percent of the expense. The towns also paid $2 million each to the federal government to offset past and future liability and consulting costs.

The 18-acre West Kingston Town Dump/University of Rhode Island Disposal Area site is off of Plains Road. The six-acre dump received unregulated solid wastes from the 1930s until 1967, when the Rhode Island Department of Health noted during a site inspection that wastes disposed of at the site were from industrial, residential, commercial and institutional sources.

From 1945 to 1987, solid waste was also accepted at the 12-acre URI Disposal Area, referred to in the past as the URI Gravel Bank or the Sherman Farm. Facility operations contaminated the soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals.

After the town dump closed in 1978, the URI Disposal Area began accepting most of URI’s waste, including small quantities of empty paint cans, oil containers and pesticide containers. Lab equipment, machinery, closed drums and old tanks buried on site were discovered by the DEM during a 1987 inspection.

In 1987, URI removed 159 tons of materials and transported them to waste disposal facilities, and closure work began in 2003. Construction of the landfill caps finished in the spring of 2006.

“One of EPA’s major priorities is continuing to make progress cleaning up Superfund sites in the New England region,” EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel said. “Once a site, or part of a site, is cleaned up, EPA conducts regular reviews of the cleanup to ensure that it remains protective of human health and the environment.”

There are many phases of the Superfund cleanup process, including considering future use and redevelopment at sites and conducting post-cleanup monitoring of sites. EPA must ensure the remedy is protective of public health and the environment and any redevelopment will uphold the protectiveness of the remedy into the future. 

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