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Does Old Landfill Taint Wildwoods’ Water 3.29.2006

By Jack Fichter

RIO GRANDE –  Larry Newbold is convinced water coming from Wildwood Water Utility is contaminated by a nearby landfill.
He bases his theory in part, on a home water filter that turned up very high readings of toxic chemicals.
Newbold served as county agricultural agent here from 1962 to 1998. He was also a professor at Cook College of Rutgers University.
 He will present 40 cartons of information this month to the law firm of Hankin, Sandman, Bradley and Palladino of Atlantic City for a suit the county filed against the former owners of the Mar-Tee, Lower Township Sanitary Landfill and those involved in the operation and disposal of materials at the site.
The former landfill site is off Route 47 in Rio Grande. A state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) report said Wildwood Water Utility’s well field, which supplies water to the Wildwoods, Shawcrest, and Rio Grande, is located about 3,000 feet northeast of the landfill.
“You could throw a quarter from that dump and hit the well fields for Wildwood,” said Newbold.
Named in the county’s suit: Thomas F. Brodesser Jr., T. Brodesser Jr. and Company, Mar-Tee Contractors Inc., Waste Management of South Jersey Inc. and SCA Services Inc., Joseph E. Fasulo, Waterfront Improvement Company, and Peggy Brodesser, and John Does 1-10 which allows additional parties to be added to the suit if others are discovered to have been involved, according to County Counsel John Porto. Dropped from the suit was former DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell.
The county started its suit in 2003 claiming a 60-acre plume of pollution was in groundwater under the landfill and could threaten the Wildwood well field, charging DEP was aware of that fact and ignored it.
Wildwood Crest resident Barbara Stoltz agrees with Newbold on the contamination issue. She had the water filter from her reverse osmosis system analyzed by a laboratory after six months of use and the results frightened her.
Severn Trent, of Edison, a DEP-approved lab, found levels of toxic chemicals that were extremely high. Her water filter contained 1,600 parts per billion (ppb) of chloroform while the state DEP criteria for aquifer standards are only 6 ppb.
The lab report said the results from the filter sample “do not meet the current NJDEP ground water Class II A aquifer standards.” It noted there are no criteria under NJDEP drinking water standards for the chemicals identified in the filter samples.
Bromodichloromethane registered 1,100 ppb in her filter while the DEP criteria for aquifer standards is 10 ppb. While DEP aquifer criteria for volatile organic compounds are 500 ppb, Stoltz’s water filter had 72,500 ppb.
A second water filter test also turned in very high readings such as Dibromochloromethane at 17,000 ppb while the state DEP criteria is 10 ppb.
State DEP spokesman Fred Mumford disputed those comparisons noting the lab measured solids versus a water sample.
“Don’t compare a sediment sample to a water sample, it’s completely different standards,” he said. “She did not do a water sample on a given day.”  
Newbold said the chemicals in Stoltz’s filter came from Wildwood Water Utility since that is where the water originated.
A report was issued by the DEP, received by the City of Wildwood Feb. 16, reporting the results of test wells installed by the agency near the landfill last December were inconclusive.
DEP noted mistakes were made with a testing lab providing incomplete information on forms, sample labels and shipping cartons, and date and time and temperature of samples when received.  Tests for Tertiarybutylalcohol, and 2-Chloroethylvinylether were rejected.
Gary Ziegler, executive director of Wildwood Water Utility, told the Herald the analysis of the DEP tests “were somewhat in dispute because of the way the wells were constructed and sampled.”
“I know that the state DEP is going to do a second round of testing,” said Ziegler.
He said he had no idea how Stoltz’s water filter registered such high readings.
“Filters are supposed to take out contaminants and if you filter anybody’s water for a long enough period of time, the filter then is going to contain a lot of contaminates,” said Ziegler. “The fact is you’re concentrating any contaminants that are in the drinking water into the filter element.”
Ziegler said a proper test would be to collect water from a sink in her house before it passes through a filter system.
“If she did that, I am extremely confident that she would find that there are no contaminants in the drinking water above the US EPA and NJDEP standards,” he said.
High readings in Stoltz’s water filter for chloroform and trihalomethane chemicals are a result of chlorine being added to Wildwood’s water as a disinfectant, he said. Ziegler said that was to be expected for a filter operating for six months.
He said the state limit for trihalomethanes is 80 ppb but Wildwood water utility readings are about one-quarter of that amount.  He said the water utility uses 12 from a total of 16 wells.
Those wells are in the Cohansey Aquifer and the Kirkwood Aquifer. He said Well 31 in the Estuarine Aquifer was shut down “for purely precautionary reasons because of the Brodesser well fields.”
He said testing of Wildwood’s water exceeds EPA and DEP schedules.
The 2006 DEP report acknowledges the landfill received municipal, commercial, and industrial wastes.
“Historic groundwater data from 1981-1989 suggest that the landfill had formerly impacted groundwater in the shallow aquifer with volatile organic compounds including Chlorobenzene, Dichlorobenzene, and Trichloroethane,” said the DEP report.
It notes the county installed an extensive shallow monitoring well network in the area surrounding the landfill to evaluate the landfill’s continuing impact on groundwater in the shallow Holly Beach Aquifer. The study (2001-2004) indicated the Holly Beach wells surrounding the aquifer are no longer contaminated by volatile organic compounds that exceeded state standards.
Arsenic, iron, manganese and ammonia did exceed state limits, according the report because of the “landfill’s continuing influence on groundwater chemistry.”
One well turned in a reading that slightly exceeded standards for vinyl chloride and two wells well exceeded limits for Chlorobenzene.
In  2001, high readings for arsenic turned up in three wells.
 “Contaminated groundwater within the Holly Beach Aquifer at Mar-Tee (landfill) is not expected to impact the Holly Beach Aquifer at Rio Grande well field,” said the report, which indicates contamination is moving away from the well field.
Three monitoring wells installed by DEP last November produced results with pH levels higher than expected from the Estuarine Sand Aquifer, the cause of which is not understood, according to the report. It noted drilling mud remained on well screens.
The pH level may be causing higher arsenic readings, said the report. New tests will be necessary, according to Mumford.
The landfill closed in late 1970s and the county obtained the property through condemnation in 1985, according to Porto, to expand the county airport. The county contends DEP should be ordering a cleanup of the site.
In February, Superior Court Judge William Todd gave the county the option of suing DEP for failing to act on repeated complaints of pollution at the site. The county had dropped DEP from the suit after they promised to drill test wells.
The wells were drilled between the landfill and Wildwood’s well field. The county had requested the wells be drilled directly under the landfill.
Porto told the Herald the county had a deadline to add DEP as a defendant to its suit as of Feb. 25. He said the county had waited “for some time” for test results to make its determination.
Porto said the county has requested Todd permit the county to add DEP back into the lawsuit.
“By letter, he indicated he would not permit that,” he said.
The county’s special counsel has filed a notice of motion to be heard Friday for an extension of time to put DEP back into the suit. He said codefendants would weigh in on the issue and Todd will rule.
County Special Counsel Stephen Hankin told Superior Court Judge George Seltzer in 2004 that the county had research and memos indicating 15, 55-gallon drums at the landfill were never examined and sewer sludge was dumped at the site.
In 2004, a test of Stoltz’s filter by Calmar Environmental Associates, a lab she hired, turned up high readings of Chlordane, a banned pesticide. In a letter to Stoltz, Calmar noted Chlordane should not be in the water supply.
 The DEP groundwater standard for Chlordane is 0.5 ppb while Stotz’s filter turned in a reading of 540 ppb. Ziegler said the utility recently tested for 20 to 30 pesticides and found none at the main treatment plant.
Newbold said he told U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie a cover up of a contaminated Wildwood water supply has occurred.
Stoltz contacted U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd) with her question of water safety. LoBiondo sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on her behalf.
In an answer to LoBiondo’s letter, EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said the results of tests of Stoltz’s water filter, in use for six months, “may or may not represent the concentrations of chemicals in the water being supplied prior to treatment,” (by her filter system). He recommended water testing at her home before water goes through the filter system.
Newbold alleges Wildwood Water Works blends water from its wells, so results would change day to day. He said, “The answer to pollution is dilution,” blending a bad well with good ones.
Newbold said the water works has had 20 years to move wells away from the landfill. He said the only solution would be the installation of a reverse osmosis plant similar to Cape May’s desalination system.
He said he believes an “artificial crisis” may be created in the future involving saltwater intrusion into wells to cover up the fact the well field was contaminated by the dumpsite. Until water contamination is addressed, Newbold said there should be a total moratorium on new construction in the Wildwoods and Rio Grande.
Freeholders approved a contract last September with S.T. Hudson Engineers for sampling of wells 28 and 31, evaluation of a deep observation well within the plume, review of aerial photographs, evaluation of groundwater transport, additional monitoring wells, groundwater sampling, installing monitoring wells in landfill, and design and permit a groundwater treatment system.
Ziegler said that work represented cooperation between the county and Wildwood Water Utility to assure nothing was getting into the water.
Contact Fichter at (609) 886-8600 Ext 30 or at: jfichter@cmcherald.com

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