Post-closure care will end at Buffalo Grove’s Land and Lakes landfill, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Jan. 13, paving the way for commercial development plans to begin at the northeast end of the village.
In a 19-page responsiveness summary, IEPA officials said that the facility has met the state’s environmental requirements and will no longer be required to monitor groundwater or maintain the cover system of the landfill, which last accepted waste in 1994 and closed the next year. The site then underwent the minimum 15 years of post-closure monitoring required by the state.
The IEPA further stated that the landfill’s "groundwater monitoring wells, piezometers, leachate collection wells and gas vents were properly plugged and abandoned" after the agency determined that Land and Lakes had met its criteria and resolved all questions from the IEPA’s technical staff. (See the attached PDF for the complete report.)
The report, originally scheduled for release in January 2011, was issued after a . Additional data was collected and examined during that time.
The IEPA’s report includes responses to questions and concerns raised during a public comment period in late 2010. It states that results from a preliminary study commissioned by Buffalo Grove did not play a role in its decision. Instead, the IEPA “relied on information collected from quarterly groundwater monitoring of the landfill during the entire post-closure care period as well as the application for completion of post-closure care.”
Several pages of the report address concerns about the presence of phenol, a toxin that was detected in groundwater during some tests on the site. In its response, the IEPA noted that “phenol has been detected only sporadically at this facility and at low concentrations ... below the Class II groundwater quality standard.”
Concerns about possible contamination were expressed at a , held at the request of former Trustee Lisa Stone. Stone has voiced a number of concerns related to conditions at the landfill during the past couple of years, and this month to the IEPA.
Stone could not immediately be reached for response to the IEPA’s decision on Jan. 13. In a press release issued on her behalf just an hour before the IEPA's announcement, Stone said she remains concerned about the safety of the site.
"We can’t let this potential time bomb sit there. We need to make sure that the area is clean, that there are no toxic substances polluting the ground and water of current residents and future generations," she said.
At the 2010 public hearing, Deputy Village Manager Ghida Neukirch addressed IEPA officials on behalf of the village, asking that post-closure care end so that the 60 acres at 1300 Milwaukee Ave. can be developed.
Buffalo Grove Village Manager Dane Bragg said the agency’s decision is “a significant step toward the redevelopment of the property.”
“This is a major hurdle for us to clear,” he said. “The next steps for them will be to develop a marketing plan and work with the village to market the site. I think it opens up some great opportunities for the village and Land and Lakes.”
Neukirch said that the property is already zoned for commercial use. She said she envisions a retail development that will include big-box retailers, restaurants, a hotel and office space.
Despite the challenging economy, “we do have a lot of leads for that site,” she said.
“If it was up to us, they would be before the board right now. We are working with Land and Lakes and we would like to see the property developed as expeditiously as possible,” she said.
Buffalo Grove Village President Jeff Braiman said he was pleased by the IEPA’s decision. He said its commercial development will generate additional sales tax revenue for the village.
The IEPA’s decision, he said, is “not surprising to me because if you followed it, their testing didn’t show anything abnormal. There’s nothing in the documentation from the IEPA in the last two years that was concerning.”
“The whole controversy behind it, hopefully that’s behind us and we can move on to other things,” he said.