An illegal Westfall Township dump site with ties to organized crime that was shut down around 1989 is going to be remediated.
The dump, owned by Charlie and Judith Shay, is on the Riverview Inn property in Westfall Township.
A recently published public notice indicates the site will move through the Pennsylvania Land Recycling Program, also known as "Act 2," with the intention of remediating the site and formally closing the case.
The property was contaminated after Shay, working with others, allowed vast quantities of construction and demolition debris and some medical waste to be dumped at the site between February and October 1989, federal court papers say.
Some 17 acres of land were contaminated during the dumping. Soil tests at the time found lead and benzo(a)pyrene in certain areas of the soil, plus wood, metal, asphalt and brick, said Colleen Connolly, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Benzo(a)pyrene, found in coal tar, is highly carcinogenic.
Sample testing from the mid-1990s showed the groundwater there had a methane gas issue.
Shay confirmed through an email that he hired ARM Group Inc., an environmental remediation firm, to move the property through the Act 2 process.
He chose this time to remediate the property for "no particular reason other than I have the time and ARM comes highly recommended," Shay wrote.
A Limited Site Assessment of the Shay Property was conducted by ARM in 2005, and the debris fill area on the property was identified as an "open" case with the DEP.
Soil and groundwater sampling activities were completed, and a Site Characterization, Exposure Assessment, and Proposed Remedial Action Report was prepared and submitted to the DEP in 2007, explained ARM Project Manager Steve Fulton.
The DEP responded to the report in 2008, saying that the dumped materials could be left in place because of the absence of any notable contamination or risks to human health or the environment, Fulton said.
To formally enter the site into the Act 2 process, an Act 2 Notice of Intent to Remediate was recently prepared and submitted to the DEP.
ARM will meet with the DEP to review the plans. Once the DEP approves a plan, the remediation will begin.
Remediation does not completely clean a site; instead it fixes it as much as possible and brings freshness to the site, Connolly said.
The plan at the Shay site is to leave the debris in place and cover it with clean fill, Connolly said.
In 1969, during the construction of Interstate 84, the property's previous owner allowed state highway contractors to excavate a large hole from the property.
The hole became partially filled with tree stumps and other organic waste, but there remained a large depression.
In 1988, the Shays began construction of a restaurant on the property and needed to fill the depression as part of that project.
Shay arranged with a waste broker named Kelly Wall to bring clean fill to the site.
Instead of clean fill, however, Wall dumped shredded demolition waste, municipal waste, construction debris, and other debris at the site, court papers say.
At some point during this time, Shay's then-attorney, Randolph Borden, requested that the state issue a permit to Shay to use his land as a site for the dumping of construction and demolition debris. The request was denied because the property was too close to residential areas and the Delaware River.
Twice in 1988, state officials inspected the Shay property and found the landfill material previously dumped by Wall to be environmentally unacceptable.
Wall stopped dumping and abandoned the project, court papers say.
In January 1989, Donald Herzog, James Rogan and Frank Salerno met with Shay and proposed to bring processed construction and demolition waste to the site.
Herzog formed a corporation called Tri-State Land Development Inc., which brought the materials to the site, supervised the work and charged haulers cash.
In March 8, 1989, the state cited the Shays for the unlawful dumping of the Wall waste and imposed a $20,000 civil penalty.
Herzog, Shay and others met with Pennsylvania regulatory authorities to discuss cleanup of the site. Herzog proposed to remove the Wall material and replace it with better quality fill.
He provided the state with a list of safeguards to ensure that the Wall material would be properly removed and that clean fill would be dumped in its place.
It was later discovered that before that meeting, Herzog and Shay had already opened the landfill and accepted construction and demolition debris.
The dumping increased after the meeting with the state, but not on the terms discussed with the officials.
From March through July 1989, Herzog, Shay and others allowed truckloads of untreated debris to be dumped there, often at night.
Although the illegal landfill operated for only six months, the proceeds of the operation totaled about $3 million, of which Shay received a one-sixth cut.
In addition, $500,000 in payments were made to the New York Lucchese crime family, with payments funneled though then-acting boss of the family, Alphonse D'Arco.
The Luchese family assisted in overseeing operation of the dump and transmitting money inside the Luchese family hierarchy, a 1993 indictment said.
In May 1989, the ground wells of neighboring residents on Rose Lane began to emit foul odors and brown fluids, and the water acquired a foul taste. After heavy rains, the wells produced brown foam.
The state issued a cease-and-desist order in July 1989, ordering immediate halting of dumping at the site, but dumping and negotiations with the state continued on and off until 14 people involved in the operation, including Shay, were indicted in 1993.
Shay spent some time in prison.
Today, he operates the Riverview Inn banquet hall and sells barbecue sauces marketed as being "so good it ought to be illegal."