Environmental Protection

EPA Region 4 Recognizes 2 Florida Counties for Excellent Site Reuse

Last week, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 4 office honored Broward and Hillsborough counties in Florida for redeveloping and reusing former landfill sites.

Broward County won an Excellence in Site Reuse award for redeveloping the former Davie Landfill Superfund site into Visa View Park. The site once was referred to as "Mount Trashmore."

The site operated as a landfill between 1964 and 1987. While the county closed the landfill and cleaned up the site under EPA oversight, it installed much of the infrastructure (roads, stormwater drainage, landscaping, etc.) for the site to eventually be used as a park. Five or more years passed after the landfill was closed before the county obtained enough funding to complete the park.

The park opened in July 2003, and the county expanded it in November 2009 after noting its popularity. Activities in the park include horseback riding along many trails, biking, a trail with fitness stations, rollerblading, paragliding, primitive camping, radio-controlled plane flying and boating, catch and release fishing, and many other types of passive use. There are two playgrounds; one of them was certified by Boundless Playgrounds for exceeding the minimum requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The 210-acre Davie Landfill site originally housed a garbage incinerator for the county. The incinerator closed in 1975, and a sanitary landfill was constructed on the site for disposal of municipal solid waste, construction debris, tires and other waste materials. A sludge lagoon was used to dispose of grease trap pump-out material, septic tank sludge and treated municipal sludge from 1971 until 1981. The lagoon was closed after the sludge contaminated groundwater, and the sanitary landfill was closed in 1987. In 1989, Broward County excavated, dewatered, and stabilized the contaminated sludge from the lagoon, placed it within a cell in the sanitary landfill, and constructed a cap over the cell with a protective cover. Due to the low levels of groundwater contamination detected, EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) determined that the contaminants could be addressed by natural processes with regular monitoring of the groundwater. Groundwater cleanup standards were achieved by September 2003. The site was removed from the National Priorities List in 2006 and, since then, the EPA and DEP have continued to monitor the site to ensure its safety.

Hillsborough County won its Region 4 Excellence in Site Reuse award for creatively reusing the former Taylor Road Landfill Superfund site to serve multiple purposes that benefit the community.

Since cleanup actions were taken under EPA oversight, Hillsborough County has established a recycling center, a Community Collection Center, a Household Chemical/Electronics Collection Center, a Site Maintenance Facility, and Environmental Field Office at the site. In addition, the county:

  • uses part of the landfill to grow hay that is used for erosion control;
  • collaborated with the Tampa Radio-control Aircraft Club and the Academy of Model Aeronautics to build model airplane park that includes a paved runway and covered working areas;
  • worked with the U.S. Department of Energy on a study to evaluate using methane from landfills as a renewable energy source, providing valuable information on using landfill gas for power generation.
  • enhanced the selected remedy by voluntarily extending water lines to additional residents to provide a larger buffer than required between private wells and the compliance ring of monitoring wells.

The 42-acre Taylor Road Landfill was a Florida Department of Transportation borrow pit until it was permitted as a solid waste landfill for Hillsborough County in 1975. From 1976 until 1980, the county operated the landfill, which was intended for disposal of residential, commercial and industrial refuse. An unknown quantity of hazardous waste is suspected to have been buried in this landfill as well. Volatile organic compounds and metals contaminated monitoring wells on site and nearby private wells. The Record of Decision (ROD) for the site was issued in 1995. Major cleanup elements for the site included the closure of the landfill under the Florida landfill closure program, installing monitoring wells, monitored natural attenuation of groundwater contamination, and providing county water service to residents within a 270-foot setback of the monitoring wells. Today, groundwater data clearly indicates the effectiveness of natural attenuation in reducing contamination at the site.

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