Group defines hazardous waste sites

ADDISON COUNTY — The 1,421 Vermont hazardous waste sites identified in the Toxics Action Center report “Toxics in Vermont: a Town by Town-by-Town profile” were drawn from year-old statistics compiled by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in their online database.
Toxic spills, however, are not on this hazardous waste site list, like the recent Feb. 1 kerosene spill at the New Haven United Reformed Church on Route 7 that dumped oil over the church’s interior and then spread across the property. Toxic spills have their own database.
“Basically, the deal is that if a spill is not going to be an open-and-shut case then it will go on the hazardous waste site data base. But, if it is acute, and it closes quickly, it won’t make it onto the hazardous waste site … nine times out of 10,” said DEC environmental analyst Alex Geller.
What this generally means is that a spill is an isolated incident of toxic contamination that is quickly resolved, where a hazardous waste site is a prolonged incident of contamination.
“Every spill and hazardous waste site is unique, with a unique set of conditions, so it’s difficult to apply a standard blanket to all of these situations … it’s not a straightforward thing,” added Geller.
Hazardous waste sites that are considered “active” or “open” are classified under three levels of severity: high priority, medium priority and low priority.
•  A high priority site is one where a contaminant directly affects human or environmental health, frequently making its way into rivers, streams, groundwater and drinking wells.
•  A medium priority site is one where human or environmental health is threatened but not directly affected by a contaminant.
•  A low priority site is one where a contaminant neither poses a threat to nor directly affects human or environmental health.
Addison County is home to only four high priority sites: the Riverside Apartments in Vergennes on Main Street, the Monkton General Store on Monkton Ridge, the New Haven Mobil (formerly MacIntyre Fuels) on Route 7, and the Leicester General Store on Route 7.
All of these high priority hazardous waste sites were caused by petroleum incidents more than 10 years ago and been the target of DEC remediation since.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].

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