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Entries in Landfill (5)

Wednesday
May292013

North Carolina Neighborhood Built on Landfill Is Sinking

ABC News(HAVELOCK, N.C.) -- Warren Salter's yard had yielded more problems than dandelions. Just inches below the surface, he's dug up glass, spark plugs, even the hood to an old truck.

Salter bought his house in Havelock, N.C., in 2001, but by 2003 he realized that something was wrong.

"Everybody's yard is dropping," Salter told ABC News. "What used to be flat land for the kids to play football in is now big sunken areas."

"Trees I planted about five years ago, now you look at them and they're tilted downhill toward where everything is sinking," he said.

The reason, he said, is because the neighborhood was built on an old landfill, one that Salter said was last used in the 1940s and 1950s. The city of Havelock began building out in the 1960s and Salter's home was constructed in 1973.

"My neighbor knew of the dump before this area was built out. He actually remembers where an old school bus is buried," said Salter. That bus in now believed to be under someone's backyard.

Salter told ABC News that he only has to dig inches in his yard to find traces of the dump like steel, glass or the truck hood.

Salter put a call in to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2003 after he realized there was a problem, and they directed him to the North Carolina Division of Waste Management. He said the state conducted studies on the neighborhood around 2005. It was discovered during these inspections that some cavities, or land voids, are a mere two feet below the soil, believed to be caused by now decomposed garbage, he said.

"I get the feeling that it won't be long before I'm coming home, driving my truck up to my driveway and will sink right through," he said.

Neighbor Shannon Richards moved into her 1975 house in 2001 and learned about the landfill a year later.

"My problem is with my house settling. I have cracks in my drywall. I even have some doors that won't close anymore. A couple of years ago, I had a pipe that snapped. That was before we knew of the landfill...now I realize that was probably due to that," Richards said.

"My dog has pulled glass out of the backyard," she said.

Richards said the city of Havelock should be held somewhat responsible.

"[The city] issued the permits to the builders. We'd like for them to come in and properly clean it up. If they can't do that, we'd like for them to buy us out," she said.

Havelock city attorney Warden Smith told ABC News that a city meeting is scheduled for June 10, but Salter and his neighbors may find it a bit "anticlimactic."

"As a practical matter, the meeting on the 10th is simply for our office to report the board of commissioners our findings...for these citizens, it may be a fairly disappointing meeting," Smith said.

"My answer as the city attorney is that the city of Havelock has no liability at all," Smith said. "It wasn't done on their watch."

Smith explained that the landfill and the dumping predated the establishment of the city. He said, "Private property owners will have to deal with it themselves."

The North Carolina Division of Waste Management said in a statement Wednesday, "We are investigating the site to determine the nature and extent of the waste and any health risks due to the presence of metals on-site. Through preliminary soil testing, we have determined the presence of metals in the soils, but those levels are not considered to be an immediate health risk to people living in the community."

Salter said that he is having "a hard time" finding legal representation. He even put in a call to environmental activist Erin Brockovich, but has yet to hear back.

"The house is settling. My back yard is dropping. My neighbor's yard is dropping quickly." Salter said. "We have a mess out here and we're not getting the attention we deserve to get it cleaned up."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb282012

Partial Remains of Some 9/11 Victims Went to Landfill

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A Pentagon report released Tuesday revealed for the first time that some ashes from the cremated, unidentified partial remains of victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., had been sent to a landfill.

The revelation was made in three brief mentions in a report released Tuesday by an independent Pentagon panel headed by retired Gen. John Abizaid.   The panel had been tasked with correcting procedures at the Armed Forces Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, which had been accused of “gross mismanagement.”

The earlier review corroborated allegations made by whistle-blowers that in two instances very small amounts of body tissue had been lost at the facility which serves as the main arrival point for the remains of service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For much of the past decade, the mortuary at Dover has contracted a medical waste company to cremate and incinerate any small unidentified portions of bone or tissue from service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan that might remain after the identification process has been completed.

From 2003 to 2008, the waste company disposed of any remaining ashes in a southern Virginia landfill, but that policy changed in 2009 and any remaining ashes are now disposed of at sea.  Before the policy change, the ashes of the partial remains of at least 274 service members had been disposed of in the landfill.

When the reports first surfaced in November, Air Force officials said they only had paperwork going back to 2003 and were unclear when the practice actually began. But the report released Tuesday found the practice actually began a year earlier, with some of the unidentified partial remains of victims of the  Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

A brief mention in the report says, “This policy began shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when several portions of remains from the Pentagon attack and the Shanksville, Pa., crash site could not be tested or identified.

"These cremated portions were then placed in sealed containers that were provided to a biomedical waste disposal contractor,” the report continues.  “Per the biomedical waste contract at that time, the contractor then transported these containers and incinerated them.”

The report makes no mention of how many remains from Sept. 11 victims may have been disposed in this manner.  Presumably they could not be identified because there was no DNA matter remaining in the small charred pieces of tissue that may have remained.

Dover Mortuary officials assumed that no remains would be left, but after an inquiry they were told “that there was some residual material following incineration, and that the contractor was disposing of it in a landfill. The landfill disposition was not disclosed in the contractual disposal agreement.”

The 9/11 attack on the Pentagon killed 184 people when a hijacked airliner crashed into the building. Another 40 passengers were killed aboard the plane that crashed into a Shanksville, Pa., field after passengers struggled to take control of the airplane from hijackers.

It is unclear if the families of 9/11 victims were aware that unidentified remains had gone to contractors and then to the landfill, or if they had given previous consent, as has been the case with the families of military service members.  

The families of military service members are provided with forms on which they can sign off on the disposition of any portion of remains that could not be identified or are found after most of the remains have been turned over to families for burial.

In a statement, James Laychak, president of the Pentagon Memorial Fund, whose brother Dave died in the 9/11 attack, said his organization was aware of the report. Although he said the fund had not received a copy, “We are grateful for the willingness of the Department of Defense and other members of the subcommittee to conduct the independent review."

“We appreciate the department’s commitment to meeting the highest standards of care for the remains of our fallen heroes.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec082011

Air Force Admits More Ashes Sent to Landfill Than First Believed

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DOVER, Del.) -- The Air Force confirmed Thursday that as many as 274 sets of cremated partial remains were disposed of in a Virginia landfill, significantly more than had been originally acknowledged when the now-discontinued practice was first reported a month ago.

“We regret any additional grief the past practice may have caused,” said Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services.

Jones briefed reporters after Thursday’s Washington Post article that detailed 274 instances prior to 2008 when the ashes of partial remains were disposed of in a southern Virginia landfill.

The Air Force Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware cremates any partial remains that might emerge after a family has taken possession of their loved one’s body. Jones described the partial remains as usually consisting of small pieces of soft tissue or bone fragments. Families are provided with a form where they can choose to not be notified if such remains emerge and agree to the military disposing of such remains.

From 2003 to 2008, the mortuary would send additional partial remains to a funeral home that would then send them to a contractor for cremation. The ashes would then be disposed of in a southern Virginia landfill. When presented with the forms, families were not told that the disposition meant that the ashes would ultimately be sent to a landfill.

In June 2008, the new head of the mortuary reviewed the practices at Dover and concluded that disposing cremated partial remains at sea was a more fitting option. The “retirement at sea” has since become standard practice for the mortuary.

Asked if the practice prior to 2008 was disrespectful, Jones answered, “It is certainly not the way we would have done it. Looking back, that’s why in 2008 when we saw that practice we changed that practice.”

Jones said 14 urns containing the ashes of partial remains have been taken out to sea aboard a Navy ship for “retirement at sea.” The urns are made of salt so they will dissolve in water. After the briefing, Jones said the 14 urns were all taken out to sea in January 2011 in a group retirement at sea.

The Air Force has established a hotline since the practices at the Dover Mortuary have been in the news. So far, it has received nine calls and only one that dealt specifically with the issue of the ashes being placed at the landfill. The number is 1-855-637-2583, or questions can be sent via e-mail to dover.pm@pentagon.af.mil.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

Children Dumped in Fla. Canal Identified; Mother's Body Found

WPBF-TV, West Palm Beach(DELRAY BEACH, Fla.) -- Investigators in Delray Beach, Fla. have identified the bodies of a young boy and girl found Wednesday in a canal, according to ABC affiliate WPBF-TV.  They also say they have identified the body of a woman found in a West Palm Beach landfill as their mother.

At a press conference Friday, Delray Beach Police Sgt. Nicole Guerriero said medical examiners have identified the boy as 10-year-old Jermaine McNeil.  Police identified the girl as 6-year-old Ju'tyra Allen.  Police said the two children were brother and sister, but the medical examiners could only confirm that the girl and boy shared similar features.  The medical examiner has not confirm the identity of the young girl.

Sgt. Guerriero added that the body of a woman found Aug. 16 at the Solid Waste Authority, a West Palm Beach processing plant, was identified as Felicia Brown.  Police believe Brown is the mother of the children found in the canal.

Police say Clem Beauchamp of Delray Beach is a suspect in the investigation, but he has not been charged in connection to the case. It is unclear how he may be related to the child victims. But Felicia Brown's sister Margaret Gissome told police that Brown and Beauchamp had dated.

Beauchamp was arrested and taken into custody at the Palm Beach County Jail Thursday on suspicion of possessing a silencer.  The arrest was made in connection to a 2009 federal weapons investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio ´╗┐

Monday
Jan032011

Ex-Presidential Aide's Body Found in Landfill

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEWARK, Del.) -- John Wheeler fought for dignity and honor for the fallen of the Vietnam War. That's why it is so sad and ironic, his friends say, that he himself would be murdered, and his body dumped with the garbage into a landfill not far from his home.

Wheeler's body was discovered New Year's Eve as it was being dropped from a Newark, Del. city dumpster into the Cherry Island landfill in Wilmington. An autopsy found that he was a victim of homicide, but police are not releasing any details of the medical report.

John "Jack" Wheeler was known as a man of honor: a West Point graduate, a Vietnam veteran, and the man who was the driving force behind financing the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

He served three presidents -- Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, for whom he was a special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force. He moved easily among Washington's elite, working most recently as a military consultant.

But the circumstances of his death are a mystery. Police said Monday they don't know where he was killed, why he was killed, or who may have killed him.

Investigators were back at the landfill Monday, scouring for leads.

"We have no suspects at this time," Lt. Mark Farrall of the Newark police told ABC News. "What's important now is to establish the location of the crime."

Farrall said that Wheeler, who has homes in Washington, D.C. and in New Castle, Del., was scheduled to take a train from Washington to Wilmington on Dec. 28.

But at this point, he said, police have no information about Wheeler's whereabouts that week.

"His family was traveling, so no one reported him missing," Farrall said.

Wheeler reportedly was in a running dispute with a neighbor who was building a house across the street from his home in New Castle. Wheeler filed suit to halt the construction, which partially blocked his view of the river.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐







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