By Dan Klepal
Enquirer staff writer
COLERAIN TOWNSHIP - The Rumpke landfill has sprung a leak.
A waste-water collection system, designed to catch rain after it comes into contact with trash at the dump, is leaking and has contaminated three groundwater monitoring wells on the northwest corner of the site.
A small amount of the tainted water, which has high concentrations of ammonia, also has run into Banklick Creek.
Officials with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Hamilton County General Health District were at the site Friday taking water samples from the creek.
Dave Nutini, director of waste management services for the health district, said the leak poses no threat to people. And OEPA spokeswoman Heather Lauer added that there is no evidence of a fish kill or other wildlife being harmed by the leak.
"We haven't seen any evidence of a fish kill, and that's what we're looking for," Lauer said. "Just downstream there are minnows and crayfish. We'd expect not to see them, or find them dead, if there was a significant impact."
Rumpke officials will begin digging a trench around the leak, which is called a seep, today.
The trench will catch the waste water so that it doesn't flow into the creek.
Jay Roberts, director of engineering for Rumpke, said the seep is happening in an area of the landfill that was the site of a gigantic garbage landslide in 1996. That landslide, the largest in Ohio history, brought a $1 million fine.
"There was a very small quantity of water that actually made it to the stream," Roberts said. "The trench will collect the water, and we'll use pumps to send it into the sewer system."
Rumpke officials noticed the problem Wednesday, when high levels of ammonia were found in three groundwater monitoring wells in the northwest corner of the landfill. An employee walking along the creek noticed the small pool of tainted water along the creek bed, which confirmed the leak.
Lauer said it's too soon to know if Rumpke will be fined.
"The first thing we try to do is work with a company to ensure that they've taken the steps necessary to protect the environment and clean up anything that's out there," Lauer said. "Then we go from there."
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