MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. - The nation's largest trash collection service wants to expand its Menomonee Falls landfill -- again -- only this time, they want to dig up a toxic waste dump first.
Near the border of Brown Deer and Menomonee Falls, at the Orchard Ridge Landfill, Waste Management wants to expand operations for the next 20 years, but environmental watchdogs are sounding the alarm because first, the company needs the approval to dig up and move more than 1 million cubic yards of Earth from a federal superfund site.
Orchard Ridge Landfill
They say one man's trash is another's treasure, and for the Village of Menomonee Falls, your trash is worth about $3 million a year.
"This is an important revenue source for the village," said Mark Fitzgerald, village administrator.
Now, Waste Management wants to expand its landfill operations for years to come.
"There is no good way to open that cap and move the materials, so it shouldn't happen!" said Penney Waggoner of Menomonee Falls.
Waggoner said she's concerned about plans to expand the currently active Orchard Ridge Landfill by digging up the long-defunct Boundary Road Landfill and moving toxic soil to wetlands also owned by Waste Management.
"The act of moving is generating an aerosol that's toxic," said Waggoner.
Also known as Lauer Sanitary Landfill, it is one of more than 1,30 contaminated sites on the Environmental Protection Agency's National Priorities List, better known as superfund sites.
"You don't know what you're going to be digging up," said Charlene Lemoine with the Waukesha Environmental Action League.
Lemoine said they do know the defunct landfill took in more than 10 million gallons of liquid hazardous waste alone in the 50s and 60s, enough to fill every tank at Shedd Aquarium twice.
"There are environmental risks with disturbing the superfund site," said Lemoine.
Waste Management says their plan would free up much-needed landfill space and provide a rare opportunity to clean up a superfund site for good.
"By excavating that waste and moving it into a modern engineered landfill, we hope to eventually be able to delist this from being a superfund site at all," said Lynn Morgan with Waste Management.
Orchard Ridge Landfill
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources still needs to sign off on the excavation plan, but the Waukesha Environmental Action League wants a detailed environmental impact study first, and they say the window for the public to request one is closing Wednesday, Sept. 23.
The Menomonee Falls Village Board was set to discuss this issue Monday evening.
David Buser with the DNR told FOX6 News the 30-day public comment period will come when the department issues a decision that the feasibility report is complete. A public notice will go out at that time, inviting comments for 30 days.
During the 30-day public comment period, a public hearing concerning the feasibility report may be requested in writing by any county, village, city or town, the applicant or any six or more persons. The request shall indicate the interests of the municipality or persons who file the request and state the reasons why the hearing was requested.
The department will issue a decision on completeness Tuesday, Sept. 22. The decision may be that the feasibility report is complete or that it is incomplete. If it is incomplete, the landfill applicant will have to submit the information the department has identified needed to make the report complete. If it is complete, the department would soon issue a public notice for the 30-day public comment period on the feasibility report, the completeness decision and the need for an EIS.
Wisconsin’s landfill siting process:https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Landfills/Siting.html
Public comment opportunities:https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Waste/Comment.html