FLASHBACK: Major Huntington Landfill Contaminants Could Relate to Solvents or to Cold War Activities at Uranium Processing Plant

by Tony Rutherford, Editor

Note: The above story comes from 2010

The Dietz Hollow Landfill has been a consternation for both the City of Huntington and the citizens. A 1994 order by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) required the city to stop accepting trash because it lacks an underlying liner.
 
The 60-acre landfill on High Street in Guyandotte sets near the site of a former uranium processing plant. Dietz Hollow has also been known as the Huntington Municipal Landfill. The site was considered for “superfund” status by the Department of Environmental Protection.
 
Obtaining a list of contaminants at the site from internet research has an elusive nature, particularly when relying on government sites. Most of them have the site as “archived” … meaning it did not qualify or prompt action was taken so government cleanup was unnecessary.
 
However, PlanetHazard.com has mapped 86,000 companies in the US that emit hazardous air pollutants and criteria air pollutants. All data used comes from the EPA National Emission Inventory Database.
 
Accordingly, the site relies on 2002 EPA data to list 10,382.35 pounds of emissions per year in Huntington. But, the emissions from other locations within the city are minute when compared to Dietz Hollow.
 
For instance, a whopping 6,877.75 pounds of Toluene were given off at the landfill. Two other Huntington facilities emitted Toluene, Steel of WV 5.24 pounds; Huntington Sanitary Board’s treatment plant, 72.86 pounds.
 
Toluene can be used as an octane booster for internal combustion engines. It can make Multi-Wall Carbon Nanotubes. It’s used in dissolving paints, printing, adhesives, leather tanners and disinfectants.
 
However, it can also be used for TNT. And, it has been a coolant in sodium cold traps which are used in nuclear reactor loops.

hat are its effects? A little bit may create a “high,” but high levels can damages kidneys, liver, brain, heart, and nervous system.
 
The landfill site is across the railroad tracks and up a hill from the former site of the classified uranium processing and recycling plant that operated from 1951-1962 , remained on cold standby from 1962-1978, and was dismantled in 1978-1979, when the remains, including tools , railroad cars, papers, pipes, and clothing were buried in a classified location at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
 
Based on the PlanetHazard /EPA 2002 documentation, here are the significant chemical emissions from the Huntington Dietz Hollow Landfill .. (The latest we could find.):
 
Xylenes (Mixture of o, m, and p Isomers) have since WW II been petrochemical uses, as well as the painting and coatings industries. Transfab, Inc. Rt. 2 and Kyle Lane gave off 1,128.40 pounds, Columbia Paint and Raybo Chemicals, according to Planet Hazard, each emitted 750 pounds based on an EPA report; Dietz Hollow emitted 581.18 pounds.
 
Methylene Chloride, is used for paint remover, petroleum, metal cleaning and degreasing, but it is also a byproduct in the solvent extraction separation of uranium or as a byproduct of uranium enrichment plants. (549.55 pounds)
 
Benzene, a known carcinogen, is from in the air from burning coal and oil, vehicle exhaust, and around petroleum products. However, it has been used to separate trace metal impurities from uranium. (392.28 pounds at Dietz Hollow)
 
Tetrachloroethylene is used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing. The solvent damages your liver and kidneys, including a cancer risk. But the NRC on July 24, 2010 issued instructions for “safety” when working with Uranium Hexafluoride .... Tetrachloroethylene; Tetranitromethane; and Uranium hexafluoride in the uranium enrichment process. (279.86 pounds; Steel of WV accounted for 5.24 pounds of emissions .)
 
Hexane is a solvent. cleaning agent, and is used to extract oil from soy bean and sunflower crops. The Huntington Sanitary Board’s waste treatment plant emitted 7.2 pounds of this substance. It is also used as a fluorescence enhancer for uranium , as a uranium purification diluent , for extraction of uranium and forms uranium hexane fluoride. (256.17 pounds)
 
Methyl Ethyl Ketone, which is a high explosive similar to acetone peroxide, is often used as s solvent and has a sweet , sharp odor. But it is also associated with irradiated uranium. (231.31 pounds from landfill emissions)
 
Ethyl Benzene is used for the production of synthetic rubber and is present in automobile and aviation fuels . Considered a pollutant from petroleum refineries , it is part of a catalytic process involving the dehydrogenation of uranium. ( 221.42 pounds at Dietz Hollow.)
 
Vinyl Chloride, a carcinogen, has been used to make PVC pipes, wire coatings, vehicle upholstery, and plastic kitchenware. It can be formed when soil organisms break down “chlorinated” solvents. It is usually found in the air or water around factories. It was tested for extracting uranium and was found in depleted uranium in Serbia. (Dietz Hollow had 207.56 pounds of emissions .)
 
Trichloroethylene comes from metal degreasing activities associated with tool and automobile production. It can enter ground water and surface water from industrial discharges or improper disposal of industrial wastes at landfills (Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services). The chemical was buried with uranium in 30 gallon drums in 1959 at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant , but by 1984 fifteen barrels were deemed “missing” or to have corroded and leaked away. The US General Accounting Office found that the groundwater, including plumes headed to the Ohio River, was heavily contaminated. It was estimated that around 10 billion gallons of water were contaminated with trichloroethylene, uranium, neputiun, plutonium, heavy metals and other chemicals. The trichloroethylene has a low solubility in water, which means that it will sink to the bottom of the aquifer or will rest upon a less permeable layer and form a pool. These pools are extremely difficult to clean up and are a continuing source of contamination for plumes that are migrating toward the Ohio River ( Dietz Hollow emitted 167.63 pounds of Trichloroethylene, according to the EPA.)
 
Acrylonitrile, which is used in the production of synthetic fibres, plastics, and elastomers, the chemical affects the lungs and nervous system. It can also be used for aqueous uranium recovery. ( 151.96 pounds landfill emissions)
 
Ethylidene Dichloride is a carcinogen listed as a hazardous material. Long term exposure in animals led to tumors. It is a Group C , possible human carcinogen. Having an odor similar to ether is can be used for the manufacture of rubber, and a solvent for plastics, oils and fats. It is on a list of chemicals associated with uranium minerals and residual radioactive materials from inactive uranium processing sites. (105.21 pounds); http://law.justia.com/us/cfr/title40/40-24.0.1.1.3.html
 
Tetrachloroethane, a manufactured chemical that as of 2008 is not much used in the U.S., according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. In the past, it was used in large amounts to produce other chemicals, as an industrial solvent to clean and degrease metals, and as an ingredient in paints and pesticides. Uranium has been extracted from the compound, too. (84.30 pounds from the landfill), http://www.silive.com/northshore/index.ssf/2008/05/is_the_north_shore_a_chemical.html
 
Carbon Disulfide used in the manufacture of paints, enamels, tires, rubber, paint removers, electroplating of gold and nickel, dry cleaning, metal extraction from waste water, explosives, rocket fuel, and rubber cement. However, uranium hexafluoride reacts with carbon disulfide vapor at 25 degrees to produce uranium tetrafluoride (19.98 pounds)
 
Carbonyl Sulfide is a flammable, poisonous gas which may be used when handling aluminum alloys, stainless steel, chromium nickel steels, and Teflon. It is released from automobiles, coal fired power plants, fish processing, and the manufacture of petroleum, plastics, synthetic fibers, starch and rubber. In addition, (13.32 pounds emitted at Dietz Hollow) . The process of formition of natural uraniumorganic associations begins with the stage of rise of intracomplex compounds of uranium with carbonyl. (Energy Citations Database: http://www.osti.gov/energycitations/product.biblio.jsp?osti_id=4088227)
 
(Editor’s Note: The uranium processing plant contaminated and buried in Piketon, Ohio, used a nickel carbonyl process when working with uranium and in recycling uranium for the gaseous diffusion plants.)
 
The following are a list of other emissions from the Dietz Hollow site per 2002 EPA data:
 

Ethyl Chloride 36.49
Methyl Chloroform 28.98
Methyl Chloride 27.64
Carbon Disulfide 19.98
Ethylene Dichloride 18.36
1,4-Dichlorobenzene 13.97
Carbonyl Sulfide 13.32
Chlorobenzene 12.73
Propylene Dichloride 9.20
Vinylidene Chloride 8.77
Chloroform 1.62
Carbon Tetrachloride 0.28
Ethylene Dibromide 0.09
Mercury & Compounds 0.03

The following is the Planet Hazard link for pollutants at Huntington/Dietz Hollow Landfill: http://www.planethazard.com/phmapone.aspx?lid=30052982&info=pollutants
 
The following is a hazard ranking system posted June 7, 2010 for compounds found on superfund sites: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/hrsres/tools/app_c.pdf
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