Community Voices: The potential threat to the wildlife environment

Sharon McCarthy, Arvada
Posted 6/22/22

My name is Sharon McCarthy. I am a resident of Forest Springs in West Arvada as well as one founding organizer of the nonprofit Friends of Ralston Creek Neighborhoods (https://frcneighborhoods.org.)

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Community Voices: The potential threat to the wildlife environment

Posted

My name is Sharon McCarthy. I am a resident of Forest Springs in West Arvada as well as one founding organizer of the nonprofit Friends of Ralston Creek Neighborhoods (https://frcneighborhoods.org.)

Three communities in West Arvada received notice in mid-December 2021 that a developer was planning a proposed RV storage lot on a closed unregulated landfill adjacent to our communities. We sensed this was not a good idea and quickly collected our resources. We organized a non-profit and started researching the topic of unregulated landfills. What we discovered was more concerning.

Many unregulated landfills were closed when laws were more lenient; therefore they comply with standards at that time but most likely would fail current operational standards Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Voluntary Clean Up Act is lax towards development and leaves oversight of cleanup to vendors

Our concerns are twofold:  the interruption of the pristine Ralston Trail wildlife environment by unsightly RV’s and the effect of tons of road and RV’s on the subsurface of the unregulated landfill possibly contaminating Ralston Creek waters.

Closing of the landfill and subsequent development of the land seems to be well within the past and current legislature. If this land was in the middle of a desert, the concerns might be of a different nature. However, since the land is adjacent to Ralston Creek, we question if the same application of law and operational guidelines can be applied to development? This situation is not a “one size fits all.”

The 2013 flood already breached the bank of Ralston Creek — see pics in FRCN Document Library. What if there is another 100-year event? What is the effect of tons of roads and RV’s on substructure? And really, what is the substructure — unstable mix of soils and trash and unknown hazardous elements?

From the Colorado Sun: “The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently began creating an inventory of landfills that closed after 1967, when the state passed the Colorado Solid Waste Act and began regulating them. Most of the closed landfills in Colorado shut down under looser requirements than currently exist, purposefully ceasing operations ahead of 1993 federal rules that ramped up environmental standards. About 90 landfills in Colorado opted to close instead of meeting the standards. State officials intend to inspect each of them to determine whether they were closed properly and present ‘a low risk to the people and the environment.’ The site visits of those landfills, many now closed for 25 years, have not yet begun.”  

For information on a study conducted in 1982, the Chen Report, see the Friends of Ralston Creek Neighborhoods Document Library   https://www.frcneighborhoods.org/document-library/. Additional information was found in a later study conducted in 2007 by Terracon. Details furnished upon request.

Our questions are: Are the same environmental conditions noted in 1982 and 2007 still present today? What are the properties of the elements as to the degree of hazard to wildlife and communities? How stable is substructure — will shift of soils and trash cause hazard conditions? What examples of unregulated landfill end uses and mitigation are available? How much research has an RV developer done beyond looking at a piece of land covered with native grasses — does he know what is beneath the surface?

We are looking for partners in the media willing to work with us to enlighten our neighbors and the City about the potential threat to the Ralston Creek Trail wildlife environment. We have research and will share but we need help.

Can you support us?

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