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Residents Turn to EPA

Broad Run Farms residents will petition the Environmental Protection Agency to designate the Hidden Lane Landfill as a Superfund site.

Eric DeJonghe, president of the Broad Run Farms Civic Association, said they want the federal government to clean up the pollution.

Richard Doucette, waste program manager of the Northern Regional Office of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality said the EPA dropped the site as a contender for a Superfund designation in 2003, because the information available at the time was insufficient to warrant it. The federal agency could revisit the issue, he said. "Certainly there would have to be more data collected to designate the site as a Superfund site."

He would not comment on whether contamination would continue to increase or spread if the source is not removed, because the location of the source is unknown and the data from the homeowners' wells does not allow an accurate "hydrogeological interpretation." Instead, he emphasized that although the landfill is the likely source, "We don't know anything about the actual source. TCE shouldn't have been in the landfill, if it is there."

The federal regulations are designed to hold the person or company responsible for the pollution financially liable for the site assessment and the clean up, he said. "The government would pursue getting the money from the responsible party for all expenses related to the assessment and cleanup."

Doucette said he could not predict a timeline or costs associated with the clean up even if the landfill should qualify as a Superfund site.

In the case of landfills that cause groundwater pollution, the typical cleanup goal is to remove the source and then the plume. The source is a continuous supply of contamination, such as an old pipe dumping toxins into a river. Once the pipe or source is removed, contractors can go after the plume to remediate the contamination, he said.

A landfill plume is similar to the irregular formation of smoke that comes out of a smoke stack, except it is liquid. The liquid spreads out and becomes a plume.

<1b>— Andrea Zentz