EPA Complaint - Sept. 9th, 2016

Here is a complaint made to the EPA for the proposed development of the Milwaukee County Highway Department landfill.  The complaint is based on a file review of WDNR Solid Waste and Milwaukee County environmental files and documents the history of the site and past hazardous releases.  The complaint discusses the potential dangers to residential neighbors from site development if not undertaken in an appropriate manner.  The complaint documents the necessity for a full technical review of the site.


September 16, 2016                                                                              

Robert Kaplan
Acting Regional Administrator
United States EPA/ Region 5
77. W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604

RE: Complaint submitted to EPA Hotline Regarding Milwaukee County Highway Department Landfill EPA ID WID980511976/ FID 241206130

Dear Regional Administrator Kaplan:

I am contacting you in regard to the proposed development of sports facilities on the closed Milwaukee County Highway Landfill located in Franklin, Wisconsin.  This information was also submitted in the form of a complaint to the EPA hotline.

Based on a review of publicly available files, I believe the project development potentially presents unacceptable risks to nearby residents, facility users and for the long term integrity for any above ground land improvements.  Links to several documents contained or referenced in public files are included throughout to provide added detail on these issues.  What may also be concerning are those documents that were not made available for public review.  As an example, no WDNR records for this site were made available after mid-2014.  And, while they may exist, no formal WDNR development approvals, Findings of Fact or Conclusions of Law recitals are evident in the WDNR Solid Waste file or Milwaukee County Environmental Section file for the youth recreational sports development that is already constructed on a portion of the site -- DBA the Rock.

There was a recent 5K obstacle race held on the site that resulted in extensive water pooling and excavations to the cover layer and/ or cap at the site.  Links to photographs of those activities are also included as part of this review.  This “Warrior Dash” event was permitted by only one of the two affected local municipalities and apparently not at all by environmental engineers.  Given these circumstances, residential neighbors and property owners have little confidence in the safety of future proposed development or its execution.  This lack of confidence is doubly true for those dozens of families in close proximity to the site that continue to rely on groundwater.  While I understand that the facility is not under direct EPA jurisdiction I wish to bring this matter to your attention.  Certain municipal and Milwaukee County approvals are already in place, a County agency has participated as a development co-applicant; and County and municipal expenditures have been made in anticipation of regulatory approval.  Another factor supporting potential EPA review and involvement is that federal funds have previously been spent at this facility for FEMA funded emergency repairs.


As background, the following link provides a rendering of the development plan.  The plan includes a minor league baseball stadium, multi-acre indoor sports facility or facilities and supporting infrastructure such as berms, parking lots, roadways and other loading of the waste mass.  Separately, the municipal financing plan anticipates the excavation of waste from adjacent private land to provide for the development of a mixed use “Sports Village” immediately adjacent to the waste. This illustration was taken from an August 12, 2016 City of Franklin Plan Commission submission.  The City of Franklin website www.franklinwi.gov contains extensive documentation of the overall development plan contained in various Plan Commission submittals.  The 140-acre Milwaukee County owned parcel north of Rawson Avenue is largely waste filled space.  Milwaukee County publicly reports 5.7 million cubic yards of fill distributed over 114-acres deposited into several different historic quarry pits.  These fill sites have different land ownership chains, fill depths, and varied waste contents with ill-defined and irregular content perimeters due to the age and nature of the facility.  The site was closed in 1981.


To help you understand the size, extent of waste mass and nature of the filled site, I have also included a link to a Milwaukee County prepared aerial view of the landfill with a representation of underlying infrastructure as described below.


The following two documents reflect on the questionable safety record of this filled site.  


Here is a newspaper account from the Milwaukee Journal, dated Thursday, July 15, 1976 discussing a methane gas explosion in the home of a residential neighbor to the landfill in 1974.   Other links yet to be described will discuss the past discovery of groundwater mounds and environmental plumes.


Here is the personal account of another City of Franklin family that experienced a methane incursion to their home in 1996.  In this circumstance, the methane migration defeated the passive mitigation systems installed in response to the earlier Mantz home fire.  But the Knoll family is this case was evacuated safely with no long term damage to the home or its occupants.  These methane incursions were widely spaced events but both occurred in the residential neighborhood that would be immediately adjacent to the now proposed development.


With that background I want to share other documents that should cause all taxpayers and environmental professionals to question the selection of this site for extensive development.


This letter describes the discovery of a series of gas pockets between 63.5 feet and 83.5 feet underground “located near the intersection of Crystal Ridge Road and Rawson Avenue.”  An examination of the letter would indicate that the gas pocket discovered at 83.5 feet remained under significant pressure when capped after 18 hours of unrestricted venting.  Such pressure was described in the letter as “sufficient to lift ¾” stones more than 25’ in the air.”  Please note that the indicated location is the central hub of the development near a proposed public plaza, indoor sports facility, minor league stadium and one of the main entry points for the proposed development but extend outside the waste mass itself.  The presence of gas was considered so extensive at the time that a plan for another nearby monitoring well boring was abandoned.


I did discuss the presence of pressurized gas with an independent hydrogeologist who speculated that gas would likely still be in existence despite the significant passage of time due to the pressure that was achieved in 1988 and due to the continued decomposition occurring at this site. I believe that the government entities that would ultimately own and partially finance these improvements should more fully consider the long term implications for land improvements proposed above this area.  But given the existence of deep gas, I also believe that greater consideration should be given to the risk of horizontal migration of waste gas into residential neighborhoods.  I would note for the record that this site was predominately comprised of glacial soils; and quarry operations with significant water pumping operations continue in this general area of southern Milwaukee County.   In light of the immediate proximity of the site to residential neighborhoods, I have asked Milwaukee County officials to reconsider any potential plan that may be enacted to vent this gas prior to development activities due to the following submission.

Because of the size of the report, I have included a link only for the cover page and Section 3.0 Discussion of Results for your review.  According to the study, “the emission rate of ethylene oxide (71.93 lbs/yr) exceeds the acceptable emission rate of NR445 (25 lbs/yr)”.  And, “the measured PCB emission rate (<0.107 lbs/yr) is greater than the acceptable emission rate of NR445 (<0.1 lbs/yr).”

According to a published OSHA Fact Sheet that I reviewed concerning ethylene oxide (EtO), “both human and animal studies show that EtO is a carcinogen that may cause leukemia and other cancers.  EtO is also linked to spontaneous abortions,” in pregnant women and has other harmful effects on humans such as “genetic damage, nerve damage, peripheral paralysis, muscle weakness, as well as impaired thinking and memory.”  The health concerns with PCBs are also widely known and documented and the manufacture of this compound has long since been prohibited in the US.  Given the highly stable and insoluble nature of PCBs it is likely the site is still emitting significant quantities of the compound.  Other environmental documentation for this location cited in WDNR records note the presence of benzene and VOCs such as vinyl chloride in significant quantities.  Again, these carcinogens can be transported along with methane which also exists in volume as evidenced by an active waste gas flare.  But also note that a significant portion of the site is not directly serviced by the active waste gas system.  This central portion of the site was simply re-covered as a past attempt to enable this landfill to meet regulatory compliance for hazardous air contaminants.  In fact one WDNR staffer documents the concern with covering and not combusting contaminants, writing “The condition regarding hazardous air contaminants is inconsistent with what we have required others to do around the state.”

The existence of these hazardous air emissions is discussed in numerous WDNR memoranda and correspondence.  But you may want to carefully consider a November 8, 1996 internal memorandum, widely distributed within the WDNR, which suggests that Milwaukee County and its consultants worked to minimize the estimates of landfill gas generation in order to avoid the expense of a “complete interior active gas extraction system.”  In fact, other gas generation models cited by WDNR staff in the same memorandum suggest gas emissions could be 1.5 to 5 times higher than the gas generation estimated by the County consultants and “Milwaukee County cannot meet the requirements of NR 445 and NR 506 without installation of an interior gas extraction and control system capable of collecting and combusting hazardous air contaminants.” I interpret the existence of this memoranda posted to the file as evidence of possible internal disagreement within the WDNR of allowing the cost of combustion to out-weigh the danger presented by these emissions.  In any case, landfill development is now being proposed which would knowingly bring thousands of people to the site. 

The air emissions from this particular landfill have another potential consequence of note.   A well regarded researcher that I contacted tells me there are serious potential issues for human health for the PCBs that are only partially combusted in the waste gas flare.  The by-products of this partial combustion include dioxins.  These by-products have been described to me as being more dangerous to humans than the PCBs themselves.  But again, I know of no disclosure of these dangers to nearby residents or to visitors to the site.  And has anyone even thought to test the soils around the waste gas flare for dioxin concentrations.

This lack of disclosure is contrary to best practices for adaptive landfill reuse and the annual recommendations of Milwaukee County’s own consultant, SCS Engineers, for waste gas and groundwater monitoring.  No signage is currently provided at public entrances to the Rock to warn pregnant women or other visitors with health limitations of the potential health consequences of visiting the site.   And now under the current development proposal visitors will be placed even closer to the waste gas flare.  If the development intention was or is now to cap the site with a geomembrane and new cover material to reduce air emission exposure to visitors as part of a larger top-loading exercise, I would ask that site managers fully assess the new risks that such a plan would present to nearby residential property owners from the modification or disruption of the current working waste gas system.  Again managers should explain to nearby residents and private property owners how neighbors will be protected from the possible new horizontal migration of landfill gas given that the fill pits and known gas discoveries are significantly deeper than the current vacuum collection system.

Concerns had been expressed by previous WDNR engineers over certain aspects of a 2006 Milwaukee County Parks Department plan to develop the Franklin location citing “weight of soil” as being a potential concern that could “place excessive pressure on the waste.”  The concern was that “this will result in settlement and interference in leachate and gas movements.”  Research an August 31, 2006 email from WDNR engineer Bizhan Zia Sheikholeslami for the complete discussion of the planned Parks development.  But this conceptual issue is discussed in other WDNR correspondence.   Please examine a July 1, 2013 email from the same WDNR engineer to Milwaukee County Parks Landscape Architect Kevin Haley that discusses the difficulties of attempting to use berms to protect residential neighbors from the harsh sound and light effects of the Rock.  In part, the email reads as follows.  “Additional weight from the berm will shift the waste mass and may redirect the gases and leachate to areas that are not covered by the gas extraction system.”   Sheikholeslamifurther argues that “placement of berm will interfere with stormwater… and will result in additional leachate generation at the landfill.”  Given this information, how can elected officials and professional staff now sign off on the western perimeter berm north of Rawson Avenue proposed to be located in part on the waste mass?  This berm is depicted and is discussed in the proposed public financed development plan.  Here is page 18 of that plan.

Another departure from past concerns expressed by WDNR engineers for top loading the site is the proposal to “create a bowl type seating feature,” for constructing a stadium.  This is the design originally contemplated in 2014 and described in the March 18, 2014 Soil Boring Plan and is consistent with recent public descriptions.  The document further reports, “The berm will be 14 feet high,” and, “will continue around a majority of the stadium.”  Presumably, this berm itself would be sitting on top of the site lift necessary to accommodate the footings for 120 foot light standards and other sports infrastructure that are also described in the plan.  The engineering load will be measured in tens of thousands of cubic yards of fill.  The magnitude of structural loading for the landfill waste again appears to conflict with past WDNR concerns expressed for potential interference with gas and leachate migration; and presents a load challenge for the predominantly “soft” soils that comprise this site.  The development group anticipates that this particular “Dore” fill site is construction and demolition waste; but a review of the historic record would suggest that such waste was simply top-filled over organics.  What assurances do neighbors now have that a significant top loading of a deep fill site, containing 5.7 million cubic yards of fill generating discovered gas deposits at 80+ feet, will not result in horizontal migration of waste gas to adjacent residential neighborhoods?  The closest residential neighborhood is the same one that has experienced previous waste gas incursions.

7. Franklin Landfill Infrastructure Predesign Report by AECOM, Dated May, 2014.

Here is a link to a Milwaukee County development predesign report for proposed development.  The report includes a discussion of the fragility and vagaries of the current collection system due to unsuitable soils and other underlying site characteristics.

The report also estimates costs for modifications to the waste gas system to accommodate developments that “present a conflict in the operation of the gas system.”  Many of the operational problems were a result of “uneven settlement” of the gas extraction system due to unsuitable soils.  Even with the latest system updates the report indicates “based on past history and experience, the settlement and plugging of headers is expected to reoccur.”  General site unsuitability for development has been noted by WDNR engineers in other documents for past proposals as, “ground is very unstable” and “erosion and stormwater controls will be challenging.”  Another observation by a current WDNR hydrogeologist was simply, “we are not 100% sure of exactly what wastes went into this landfill.”

The managers of this site must be acutely aware that modifications to the waste gas system simply to accommodate development must carry legal risks especially for a site experiencing multiple past environmental releases.  The proposed development disrupts a working system that has certainly taken years of experience to operationally fine tune.  Proposed changes are not a system upgrade to protect neighbors.  Instead, these modifications are an attempt to engineer solutions to development conflicts.  I have asked Milwaukee County officials to re-examine the 1992 correspondence between Charles Leveque, WDNR Bureau of Legal Services and then former Milwaukee County Corporation Counsel George Rice as special counsel to Milwaukee County.  The WDNR position was simply stated as “the owner and operator of the landfill are “jointly and severally” liable for the closure and necessary remediation activity under statutes and rules administered by this agency.”  An August 7, 1992 letter from Mr. Leveque to Mr. Rice specifically discusses owner liability as “including provisions for control of hazardous air contaminants.”  Yet despite this background City of Franklin officials seem to believe that they would be sheltered under municipal immunity if something goes awry during development.   The City plan to permit and finance the disruption of a working waste gas system while they simultaneously invoke a “but-for” argument in the enactment of a TID would be an interesting legal test.

The previous remediation of this site has not been planned or executed with the intention of extensive development.  As an example, the 2014 development predesign report already rejects the development of a looped perimeter waste gas collection system simply due to cost with no consideration given to best practices of landfill reuse development. This rejection occurred despite the documented performance limitations of the current stubbed gas headers.  It should be noted that the WDNR’s position in 1996 was also that this site required a full looped system; but clearly County funding limitations then as now prevented such an outcome.  Confirmation of the WDNR position on a looped system is contained in several sources.  In particular, review the June 14, 1996 correspondence between WDNR Secretary George Meyer and Milwaukee County Executive F. Thomas Ament and materials discussed in face-to-face meetings between those two.  This 2014 rejection of a looped system discussed in the AECOM report should be reconsidered in the opinion of neighbors.   But given the indications that are clearly visible that project economic feasibility here is stretched to the limit I doubt that this will be the outcome.  In fact, the City of Franklin Common Council has already discussed the need to “value engineer” the development.  Here is a confirmation.  But the financial stridency extends also to Milwaukee County as the landowner.  As an example, County financial circumstances make the underwriting of risk by a commercial liability insurer uneconomical due to prior torts and claims.  Instead the County relies on an under reserved self-insurance pool.   And the County has yet to develop a revised financing plan to eliminate “private activity” conflicts now occurring on the site for previously issued 2015 and anticipated 2016 tax exempt bonds for landfill infrastructure.  But the County has acknowledged a previous $213,000 defeasance of tainted tax exempt financings for this landfill.

But even since the preparation of the 2014 AECOM report, the scope of the development proposal has clearly changed.  Based on planning submissions to the City of Franklin the development now requires approximately 2,700 parking spaces and anticipates a 40’ wide municipal roadway looping through the site.  [This new public road replaces another public road, also built over landfill contents, which may be fun to drive but has reached full obsolescence due to differential settling.] Given the developer illustrated plan for landscape plantings and the magnitude of supporting infrastructure, the development execution of this plan will also require significant top loading of landfill contents.  Newly proposed parking and public roadways alone would cover in excess of 20 acres of the site.  Again, I will simply reiterate neighbor concerns, expressed by previous WDNR engineers, that this plan appears to be an experiment in waste gas and leachate migration.  If the plan is to move “clean” or other fill already on site to achieve a balanced development site I would request that reviewers examine the extensive documentation on the actual character of the fill added to the site post-landfill closure prior to taking such an action.  Here is a partial public hearing transcript describing post landfill closure activities.  

8. August 10, 1987 Transcript of Public Hearing concerning Special Use Permit, City of Franklin, Resolution No. 83-2130. 

The historical record clearly shows that the site was not secured from illegal dumping.  County files contain extensive documentation on this issue; but the best sense of the depth of the problem may be this City of Franklin public hearing transcript.  Unfortunately, the fill material that was allowed by the County’s land tenant was just as problematic.  The allegations made at the public hearing include testimony from the then Franklin City Engineer of the dumping of “toxic and hazardous waste” on the site; and that in the opinion of that same Engineer the County was “operating a sanitary landfill in violation of State Code.” There was also extensive testimony of after-hours dumping, no site access control and other irregular activities.  This testimony is supported directly by WDNR correspondence and documentation of WDNR engineer site visits.   WDNR emails and draft correspondence also discuss “presumably empty formerly acid containing plastic barrels” and the dumping of thousands of cubic yards of potentially toxic inner harbor “dredge spoils when the county’s construction supervisor was off site.”  The dredge spoils are discussed in WDNR emails and in a WDNR draft letter to then Milwaukee County Parks Director M. Brigid Sullivan, dated April 29, 1994.  The hazardous containers are referenced in several documents.  One of which is included here.

9. October 9, 1985 letter from WDNR Hydrogeologist Ruth C. Johnson and Chief Solid Waste Management, Arthur H. Glor, Jr., to various Milwaukee County officials.

Separately, the existence of an EPA hazardous waste transport number WIR000026401 assigned to this facility post landfill closure speaks to the nature of certain materials discovered on the site.  Another factor for your consideration should be a recent email communication from former Milwaukee County Corporation Counsel Paul Bargren to a local resident.  In that email, then Corporation Counsel Bargren indicated simply “the County has no plans to accept fill or to rearrange landfilled material” at the Franklin site.   I understand attorney Bargren, while in private practice, was involved in litigation intended to sort out liability in another failed landfill development in SE Wisconsin and would well understand the potential hazards here.   This particular City of Waukesha site was another publicly sponsored “adaptive reuse” of a landfill that failed badly.  Multi-family residential development with earthquake proof connections used for building hookups to the natural gas supply failed to prevent the natural gas and sewer lines from being sheared from the building during differential settlement.  And that was just a small part of the story that readers should research for themselves.

But my understanding from submissions to the City of Franklin and from discussions with environmental engineers is that the sports facility developer has renewed a request that landfill contents be extensively relocated during development activities in Franklin.  This relocation of waste would accommodate a multi-acre indoor sports facility or facilities and would accommodate development on land formerly owned by the Wisconsin DOT.  This waste relocation would clearly be contrary to Corporation Counsel Bargren’s previous assurances to residential neighbors to the landfill but is now included in the City’s financing plan.  It is difficult to imagine circumstances where one landowner would allow another to relocate 35,000 cubic yards of landfill contents to a closed facility without significant financial consideration.  That financial consideration may be important as a short term fix to Milwaukee County’s upcoming budget; but neighbors simply feel they are being put in harm’s way.

But for the record it should be noted that some landfill contents were already “relocated” during 2012 development of retention ponds for the Rock.  This is confirmed in a September 26, 2012 email from developer representative Greg Marso to various County Parks and Rock representatives.  But what is most disconcerting about this action is that Milwaukee County’s Corporation Counsel, Risk Manager and environmental engineers were apparently not included in this notification.  Again, it is difficult for neighbors to have confidence in further site development given these facts.  Other development circumstances also represent red flags for landfill neighbors.  A key part of the development is an 8.1-acre parcel recently owned by the Wisconsin DOT.  In fact, the Project Plan for the Creation of Tax Incremental District No. 5, dated August 12, 2016, still shows the parcel as owned by “WISDOT” with no tax key number.  This is confirmed in the Project Plan’s Section 5 Preliminary Parcel List and Analysis.  However, a City official now reports that the parcel has since been transferred to private ownership.   For neighbors and real estate investment professionals, it is difficult to imagine that a parcel containing significant waste changed hands from a State agency to private ownership without accompanying representations of WDNR development approval for the larger plan and site.  Yet a WDNR representative recently reported “no development plan has been submitted to us,” in regard to Ballpark Commons.

10. January 15, 1986 letter from WDNR Hydrogeologist, Ruth C. Johnson and Arthur H. Glor, Jr., Chief Solid Waste Management to Milwaukee County officials. 

But back to the Milwaukee County Highway landfill, it should be made clear to reviewers that the Wisconsin DNR’s own, “records show some hazardous wastes, including heavy metals, organics and solvents, were deposited at the landfill.”  This information is contained in another Wisconsin DNR letter to County officials.

I have also included confirmation below contained in an internal Milwaukee County communication that the Franklin site achieved “a Hazard Ranking Score (HRS) for the landfill of 35.35” making it previously eligible for EPA national priority listing or Superfund designation.  This memorandum is supported in part by an ESI Prioritization Questionnaire that reports a 35.35 SI score.   I have included this information because some local public officials have previously disputed the scope of the environmental concerns at the Franklin landfill asserting that the fill material at this site is limited to “just old elm trees.”

11. March 1, 1988 internal memorandum from County Environmental Engineer Richard A. Keyes, P.E. to Gerald Schwerm, Director of Transportation and William Tietjen, Acting Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture. 

The existence of private drinking wells in close proximity to the landfill content also demands greater consideration than what is being given. This is made clear in several historic and current regulatory sources and guidelines.  As an example, the proximity of drinking wells was cited as a major factor in the original denial of the ski hill subsequently constructed at the property.  See the attached.  


This communication is notable for being prophetic of likely development consequences and for the categorization of the site characteristics that made this location a poor candidate for development.  The facts that did not support development in the past all remain in existence today including, “heterogeneous nature of the soils.”  The number of drinking wells, “within 1200 feet of the boundaries of the landfill.”  And the fact that the “Root River lies within several hundred feet due north of the landfill.”  The letter also asserts, “ground water mound has developed in the fill area.”  Finally, the letter cites the existence of, “springs of water” in at least two of the filled pits; including the Dore Pit which is now the developer preferred site of the minor league baseball stadium.  There are several issues of particular note here; but most importantly for human health, the private drinking wells remain in service despite their proximity to landfill contents.  While the WDNR has taken the position that groundwater test results are now improving and the greatest risk was down gradient, the latest development proposal for sports facilities is immediately adjacent to residential homes on the west perimeter of the landfill.  Unlike previous development of a ski hill and youth baseball there is no margin of error for western perimeter private drinking wells for an adverse event.  The homes west of the landfill may still be considered up-gradient for aquifer flows but the soils here are glacial deposits and of varied composition.  Under these conditions, there can be no reliance on gradient maps given development proximity to residential homes.   In fact, past WDNR correspondence addressed to the file in 1994 anticipated that these remaining private wells would be removed from service.   This was almost certainly due in part to the fact that this landfill was, with the exception of one fill pit, “constructed without engineered clay liner systems.”   This is documented in numerous places; but review an April 29, 1994 WDNR note to file for a complete description of past landfill operations and then current conditions.  Or again review the site ESI Prioritization Questionnaire for confirmation of the absence of a site engineered liner.   Given the past history and documentation of clean water concerns at this site how can the development project plan now simply fail to address this issue?

Reviewers may also want to carefully consider the likely impacts of this proposed sports development on the Root River watershed.  The historical record shows that underdrains from the various quarry pits at the Milwaukee County Highway landfill originally flowed through drainage ditches to the Root River.  This information is discussed and confirmed in numerous sources; but again review the January 15, 1986 letter from the WDNR to Milwaukee County officials.  The letter reported, “underdrain waters also had concentrations of a number of heavy metals that exceed the Primary Drinking Water Standards;” and discusses VOCs, benzene and other carcinogens flowing from the underdrains.  These underdrains have since been redirected; but the existence of PCBs and heavy metals at this site could surely mean that some of these compounds are now “stored” in the sediments deposited on the way to the Root River.  Increased storm water flows from the site could have the effect of freeing these prior releases which may not have not yet reached the Root River or nearby Anderson and Koepmier lakes.  Koepmier Lake is itself a glacial kettle lake which also confirms the underlying nature of the site and soils.  As discussed previously, the current development plan results in a high proportion of the site being covered with asphalt, buildings or synthetic playing surfaces.  Site runoff certainly must now increase.  But for a sense of the current situation, here is a photograph that shows the erosion in old growth Mangan Woods for watercourses flowing north to the Root River from the landfill and adjacent residential neighborhood.

The EPA’s own draft Guidelines for Evaluating and Adjusting the Post-Closure Care Period for Waste Disposal Facilities under Subtitle C of RCRA appeared to offer guidance for locations with certain characteristics as consideration for extending closure care including “proximity to vulnerable areas such as residential areas…, and drinking water sources…, past noncompliance with regulatory requirements…, how complete and accurate is the facility operating record?” and, “To what extent have closure activities minimized or eliminated escape of hazardous waste…or hazardous waste decomposition products to the ground or surface waters or to the atmosphere.”

Finally, as promised earlier, I want to return to the discussion of the “Warrior Dash” held on the site on August 13, 2016.  Here are numerous photographs that show deliberate water pooling and other highly questionable practices on the landfill cap and disturbances to the cover layer.  These excavations of the cover layer are almost certainly a technical breach of a closed site.  This photograph may be worse.  It appears to show a partial breach of the cap itself.  And there is no indication here that the cap was restored to its original condition or re-compacted.   In fact the map represented to participants of the race course indicated multiple crossings of the Root River and its flood plain as a race obstacle.  Again, there is no indication that participants have been advised of the history and current status of this landfill site despite the questionable origins and condition of soils at this location. But for residential neighbors this event and its execution demonstrate a complete lack of sense or sensitivity to the fact that dozens of families still rely on groundwater.

The selection of this particular closed landfill for the development of a major sports venue such as Ballpark Commons without sufficient examination and without the provision of adequate resources for full remediation makes little sense.  Neighbors see little precedent in Wisconsin for the development proposed here.  In other cases where passive recreation development has been allowed to proceed – waste internment has been better documented and controlled.  Sites have benefited from engineered liners.  Landfill sites and waste masses have been significantly smaller and have not had the checkered past of this facility; and neighboring residents have been served by municipal water.  This site is wedged between sensitive environmental corridors such as old growth Mangan Woods, the Root River and residential neighborhoods.  Immediate neighborhoods are dependent on groundwater for clean safe potable water.  Given these facts this closed landfill simply cannot be the best candidate site for the use proposed here.  Administrator Kaplan, I would encourage you to consider the past history and current circumstances of this site and require and oversee the conduct of a comprehensive technical review of site suitability for the scale of the planned use.  Whatever informal WDNR review is currently underway has been conducted outside the view of private citizens and should be formally expanded to fully consider potential groundwater, methane migration and air emissions impacts.  Such a review would protect the interests of residential neighbors and site visitors and the interests of all taxpayers of Milwaukee County and the City of Franklin.  Given some recent hard lessons in neighboring states on the importance of clean and safe drinking water and of the need for additional testing of suspected contaminated soils, I am asking for your agency’s involvement and assistance.

At the conclusion of this technical review, I believe that residential neighbors and property owners deserve a full and complete explanation of the protective systems that will be engineered for this site to account for the potential hazards posed by the development plan.  I would appreciate an acknowledgement that you received this letter and request the courtesy of a response to these concerns.  Thank you for your consideration of this information.


Ron Gindt
9011 W. Hawthorne Ln
Franklin, WI 53132
414-405-3549 (cell)

Electronic copies:


Margaret Guerriero
Director, Land & Chemicals Division
United States EPA/ Region 5
77. W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604


Cathy Stepp
Secretary, Wisconsin DNR
101 South Webster St.
Madison, WI 53707

Darsi Foss
Bureau Director
WDNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program
101 South Webster St.
Madison, WI 53707

Brad Wolbert
Section Chief
WDNR Waste Facility Environmental Monitoring
101 South Webster St.
Madison, WI 53707

Michael Zillmer
WDNR Waste and Materials Management
2300 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53212

Milwaukee County:

Chris Abele
Milwaukee County Executive
901 North Ninth Street, Room 306
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Anthony Staskunas
County Board Supervisor District 17
901 North Ninth Street, Room 201
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Teig Whaley-Smith
Director, Milwaukee County Department of Administrative Services
901 North Ninth Street, Room 308
Milwaukee, WI 53233

John Dargle, Jr.
Director, Milwaukee County Parks
9480 Watertown Plank Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53226

Scott Manske
Milwaukee County Comptroller
901 North Ninth Street, Room 301
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Colleen Foley
Acting Milwaukee County Corporation Counsel
901 North Ninth Street, Room 303
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Stevan Keith, P.E
Milwaukee County Environmental Services Section
633 W. Wisconsin, Suite 1103
Milwaukee, WI 53203

James Tarantino
Milwaukee County Economic Development Director
633 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Room 903
Milwaukee, WI 53203

City of Franklin:

Steve Olson
Mayor, City of Franklin
9229 W. Loomis Road
Franklin, WI 53132

Mark Dandrea
Alderman, District 1
9229 W. Loomis Road
Franklin, WI 53132

Dan Mayer,
Alderman, District 2
9229 W. Loomis Road
Franklin, WI 53132

Kristen Wilhelm
Alderwoman, District 3
9229 W. Loomis Road
Franklin, WI 53132

Steve F. Taylor
Alderman, District 4
9229 W. Loomis Road
Franklin, WI 53132

Mike Barber
Alderman, District 5
9229 W. Loomis Road
Franklin, WI 53132

Susanne M. Mayer
Alderwoman, District 6
9229 W. Loomis Road
Franklin, WI 53132

Aaron Hertzberg
Director of Economic Development
9229 W. Loomis Road
Franklin, WI 53132

Village of Greendale:

James Birmingham
Greendale Village President
6500 Northway
Greendale, WI 53129

Sally Chadwick
Greendale Village Trustee
6500 Northway
Greendale, WI 53129

Todd Michaels
Greendale Village Manager
6500 Northway
Greendale, WI 53129

City of Racine:

John Dickert
Mayor, City of Racine
730 Washington Ave.
Racine, WI 53403