Tons of Garbage from Oil Spill Cleanup Heads to Already-Troubled Landfills

Tons of oil-soaked trash from the massive Gulf Coast oil spill is heading to the region’s landfills, including some already contending with environmental concerns, The Associated Press reports.

So far, workers have transported about 50,000 tons of oily debris and boom to nine Gulf Coast area landfills, amounting to 7 percent of the waste they have received lately.

Officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told the AP that the landfill sites meet federal regulations and are being monitored. Federal officials also say the trash that they have sampled every week at the sites has not been hazardous.

However, state records show that one of the landfills, in Louisiana, was cited in May for polluting a stream feeding the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. Two others, both in Alabama, are under investigation — one for groundwater tainted with arsenic and other chemicals, and another for groundwater containing mercury.

Residents and experts have expressed concern that oil-soaked waste could affect groundwater. But experts say it’s too soon to tell if oil-soaked garbage poses any greater risk than the trash already in landfills.

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