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Town Council Orders DEM to Stop Private Company from Dumping in Island Park

The Town Council votes 7-0 to request DEM to cease any further dumping of soil at the former town landfill. The land is owned by the private company, AP Enterprises.

The Portsmouth Town Council sent a formal order to the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Monday night: stop AP Enterprises from dumping any more soil at the former town landfill until questions are answered.

The council voted 7-0 to have DEM stop AP Enterprises, a private company which owns the land in question, from conducting any further dumping at the site. The audience stood and applauded this action by the council.

"I move to request DEM to stop AP Enterprises from dumping anymore dirt at the former Portsmouth landfill until such time that the BUD is being complied with and our questions and concerns are answered," said Councilor Judi Staven, who read the motion.

AP Enterprises, the owner of this land at the corner of Park and Mason Avenues, received approval for a BUD or Beneficial Use Determination from DEM last year.

However, in December, AP Enterprises submitted a request to modify an aspect of a prior DEM approval in order to accept sub-grade capping materials with elevated levels of .

Island Park residents held a rally this past Saturday to protest the request. A video on the rally can be found .

Councilors are now questioning if AP Enterprises is in compliance with the BUD. There were no representatives from AP Enterprises or DEM at the meeting Monday night.

“Why aren’t they here?” asked Laura Rogers during the meeting.

Residents stood and applauded the council following the vote.

Town Administrator Robert Driscoll said he would bring the request to DEM's Mark Dennen "first thing in the morning," as well as seek answers to the following questions:

  • Are the trucks (bringing in soil) being properly covered and have proper signs?
  • Is dirt being blown around?
  • What was used in Middletown as shaping material for their landfill?
  • Is AP Enterprises following the BUD and providing fencing around the site, as well as air sampling?
  • Who is the site safety officer? 
  • Driscoll also said he would contact the DEM director and Save the Bay to find out what steps they are taking with this issue.
  • Driscoll will also contact the attorney for AP Enterprises and seek financial information to see if "there is some big windfall being made here."
  • He will also check for any possible erosion at the site.

Councilor Keith Hamilton also requested that Driscoll ask DEM to test for any metals in the site's soil, including lead.

When asked, after the meeting, what authority the town had over a state agency, Driscoll said he didn't know.

Council Approves Resolution Limiting Arsenic Levels

The council also voted unanimously to approve a resolution, which "urges DEM" to not raise the current limit of acceptable, naturally-occurring arsenic above 7 parts per million (ppm). 

According to the resolution, the property owner or AP Enterprises is seeking a maximum arsenic concentration of 40 mg/Kg. The current DEM standard is 7 mg/Kg.

The last section of the resolution reads, "THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: The Portsmouth Town Council hereby urges the RI DEM to reconsider and not raise the current limit of 7 mg/Kg to 40 mg/Kg, (nor any above 7 ppm) as this increased elevation could potentially have a negative impact on the health and welfare of the citizens in the town of Portsmouth and potentially other citizens of the State of Rhode Island should this be allowed on other potential sites in the State."

A copy of the complete resolution is available at right.

The audience gave a standing ovation following Councilor Liz Pedro's reading of this resolution. A copy of the resolution will be forwarded to all neighboring communities, including Tiverton and Middletown.

Prior to the vote, Island Park resident Andrew Kelly presented a document to the town clerk and council. The document described a Newport site, where arsenic levels were reported to be at 20-40 ppm, he said.

Kelly asked the council to reconsider their motion, but was denied.

Bill Carson March 08, 2011 at 03:59 PM
I'd like to see DEM look into that deal in Tiverton on Bay Street where the company that went bankrupt during the clean up put all those toxic materials from Tiverton . The company was called Envirologic from New Hampshire . I read recently about dirt or fill being found in Portsmouth that came from Fairhaven ,Massachusetts . If you Google this company it looks like they did clean up work for the Bouchard Oil Spill from 2003 in Buzzards Bay and Fairhaven .You wonder if the oiled rocks and sand ended up in Portsmouth ? Where did thehauling contractors dump all the materials from the Envirologic jobs in Massachusetts and Rhode Island ? The answer will be " I'll get back to you on that one " or "no one could be reached for comment" Where does all that contaiminated soil go after these oil spills and hazardous waste removals ?
Concerned March 08, 2011 at 05:46 PM
I thought that the DEM was set up to protect the citizens of Rhode Island from environmental hazards by setting standards of toxicity, then making sure that those standards are not exceeded. In this case where is the protection? The DEM is saying on one hand, that there are standards that we set, but they don't mean anything. Why should toxic waste be dumped in a residential neighborhood? This does not make any sense, a governmental agency that is supposed to protect us, is being used against us, for the benefit of a private company.
Lark Roderigues March 09, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Please keep other towns toxic waste out of our town. Island Park is a jewel in our town. Why would anyone let this continue? It might be private property but it's not private when it runs down the road and is in YOUR backyard. It's not private when it seeps into the bay and it's to late .
Shawn March 09, 2011 at 04:21 PM
What is this doing to property values in and around Island Park? Also, I saw the news last night and this was one of the top stories on NBC 6 o'clock news. This is getting communicated via a mass audience (which is good to put the spot light on it and get people's attention).

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