If you live in a less developed part of the country, this story does not apply to you. But, if you live in a part of the country where undeveloped property is scarce, then you need to start re-evaluating your views about properties that had prior lives. Why not begin at the old town dump?
In this country our most contaminated properties are on a list that is referred to as the Superfund list. These are the properties that have been identified as representing the most dangerous, most toxic places in the country. Whether in fact that is true is another story, for another time.
Every State has its Superfund listed sites and in Pennsylvania, one of the most notorious was called the Harper Drive Superfund Site, located in Millcreek Township. This Superfund site was at one time pristine, freshwater wetlands. But over a forty-year period, industries and municipalities used it as a dump and it ultimately housed volatile organic compounds, and metals such as copper and lead.
The site has been tainted with rusted automobiles, abandoned appliances and, of course, the signature of all dumps, leaking 55-gallon drums of toxins. Here is perhaps the best from rags to riches story in the Superfund world. This former toxic dump is no more.
After removing 100 drums of hazardous waste, crushing 600 other drums and removing tons and tons of debris and contaminated soil, the site is now a nine-hole golf course.
The new golf course is separated from the toxics buried deep below by a cap, which consists of a layer of clay with a plastic liner. So, those playing golf are completely risk-free. Caps, which are in effect high tech hats, are used with increasing frequency throughout the U.S. to isolate people from hazardous materials, without actually having to pay the hefty cost of taking the hazardous materials away.
The golf course is part of the actual cleanup. You see the way landfills are frequently cleaned is that the most dirty and vile substances are removed, leaving behind certain materials that can remain in the ground forever without really hurting anybody. They are then covered with this cap, so that when it rains, whatever is left behind does not pollute the groundwater. The golf course was developed on top of the cap.
Landfill reclamation is now big business. All over the country, municipalities and businesses that have old, polluted dumps are looking at their landfills as potential redevelopment locations. The model works.
Does your municipality have a local dump that was used through the mid 1970s and not properly closed? If so, you should consider asking your local governing body to evaluate this dump. Perhaps a redevelopment option should be considered. It can be a recreational facility, it can be a senior citizen facility, it can house light industry.
There may be gold located in these old town dumps. Often finacial incentives are available to persons who clean these old landfills. So make sure that your locality is adequately protecting your local environment and encouraging this kind of redevelopment consideration.