By Kara Herlihy

The shipment of approximately 33,000 tons of contaminated soil from Massachusetts to the Moretown Landfill is on hold currently, while state solid waste program officials investigate the EPA's determination that the soil contaminated with dioxin is "non-hazardous."

Moretown Landfill general manager Tom Badowski said that MLI was set to start receiving shipments of the contaminated soil early this week but is now waiting for state approval.

"Anytime we get a special waste like this we review the contamination levels and how much those levels leach out," he said.

Badwoski also said, "We really have a partnership with the state anytime we have a project like this; we do our internal review and make sure that the state is also comfortable."

The Moretown Landfill was selected to receive the waste from a Superfund site in Massachusetts in part due to the Moretown Landfill's impenetrable liners that prevent the seeping of materials into the ground and water.

While the chemical dioxin is considered among a list of federally acknowledged hazardous materials, Badowski said the contaminated soil was "well below the toxic limits," according to the federal standard, which Vermont uses.

MLI is waiting for state approval from the Solid Waste Program before it will accept any special waste from the Superfund site in Massachusetts. Typically, according to Badowski, MLI is not required to gain approval from the town.

Federal guidelines for dioxin come from the EPA. In May 2009, the EPA ordered a reassessment of dioxin and its potential human health risks by completing a draft of Preliminary Remediation Goals (PRGs).

According to the EPA, PRGs "serve as a target to use during the initial development, analysis, and selection of cleanup alternatives. These goals should both be protective of human health and the environment and comply with all applicable relevant and appropriate regulations."

The EPA began taking public comments on the issue via their website on January 7 but extended the deadline to April 2010 to allow additional time for consideration.

The EPA press release states, "In response to requests from the public, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing an additional 35 days for the public to provide its comments on the draft recommended interim preliminary remediation goals (PRGs) developed in the draft Guidance on Recommended Interim Preliminary Remediation Goals for Dioxin in Soil at Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Sites."

PRGs are used to assess chemicals to determine cancer and non-cancer affects.
The current regulations for dioxin, according to the draft for "Superfund, Federal Facilities, Brownfields, and RCRA sites, OSWER's 1998 soil dioxin guidance2 recommends a PRG of 1 ppb (or 1,000 ppt) for dioxin toxicity equivalents (TEQs)3 in residential soil, and a level within the range of 5 ppb (or 5,000 ppt) and 20 ppb (or 20,000 ppt) in commercial/industrial soil, where exposure is due to direct contact."