No mega-dumps  


Solid Waste Permit #42-04, Littleton, NC

Louis Zeller
November 21, 2000

The landfill was closed in 1998 and it no longer accepts municipal solid waste, but C&D waste
is still accepted at the site. Thirteen monitoring wells are placed around the landfill. The NC
Division of Waste Management requires tests to be performed and submitted to the state every
six months on each well for organic and inorganic groundwater contaminants.

Depth to ground water is shallow, from 3.5 to 40 feet and is an average of 13 feet below the
surface. Groundwater travel is from east to west, averaging .127 feet per day, 46 feet per year.

Four toxic organic compounds were detected in four monitoring wells during the last tests taken
in February 2000. Test results for the most recently completed tests submitted to the state
Division of Waste Management are shown in Table 1.

I have include included the maximum allowable concentration in the third column for each
compound for comparison. The fourth column shows a multiple for each compound’s test result
above the 2L state standard.

Table 1: Halifax Groundwater Tests Exceeding State Standard February 2000


Test Result - Feb 2000 NC maximum (2L) times the standard
benzene 16 1 16 x
tetrachloroethene (PCE) 5.3 0.7 7.5 x
trichloroethene (TCE) 18 2.8 6.4 x
vinyl chloride 12 0.015 800 x

North Carolina sets public health standard for 88 chemical compounds in groundwater. These
standards set maximum allowable concentrations “which may be tolerated without creating a
threat to human health or which could render the groundwater unsuitable for its intended best
usage.” (15A NCAC 2L .0200) The best usage for groundwater is considered to be for drinking

Table 2 shows test results for these four compounds and a fifth also above state standards:
methylene chloride. The highest result for each compound detected is shown. Some compounds
show increases, some show decreases.

Fractured bedrock at the site and groundwater travel are two factors which affect concentrations
of these compounds. Also, some organic compounds break down over time and are metabolized,
becoming new compounds. This is typical of organic contaminants undergoing anaerobic
change in landfills. Some of these new compounds, such as vinyl chloride, are more hazardous
to human health than their precursors.

Table 2: Test Results 1998-2000 Above State Standard

test date Benzene TCE PCE methylene chloride vinyl chloride
September 1998 11 20 0 0 0
February 1999 15 24 6.4 120 0
October 1999 15 22 5.6 157 0
February 2000 16 18 5.3 0 12

Finally, Table 3 contains state test results for two toxic compounds regulated by North Carolina
which are below the maximum state standard but which show a increasing trend over the last
four sampling events.

Table 3

test date xylene toluene
September 1998 48 13
February 1999 64 19
October 1999 75.5 16
February 2000 126 56

Health Effects of Compounds Detected At Halifax Landfill

A growing body of evidence indicates organochlorine compounds including tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) are a serious threat to public health. PCE and its breakdown
products are toxic, persistent and bioaccumulative in the environment.

PCE is identified as reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen by the EPA. Residents with a
PCE-contaminated public drinking water supply in Massachusetts had an increased risk of
leukemia from two to eight times normal, and the incidence rate increased with exposure levels.

Trichoroethylene is a toxic solvent. Drinking water with low levels of Trichoroethene may
cause liver and kidney damage, may impair the nervous system, may reduce the body’s immune
response, and may impair fetal development in pregnant women.

US EPA has determined that vinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen; people drinking water
contaminated with low levels of vinyl chloride have an increased risk of cancer. Vinyl chloride
in surface water or soil evaporates rapidly into the air. It can remain in groundwater for many

more info: Citizens Against Regional Dumping Nov. 21, 2000 Press Conference