- Post-closure remediation for an eroding landfill cap near Indianapolis' Whispering Hills Golf Course could cost the city $6 million, as reported by Indy Star.
- The former Julietta Landfill was converted into a golf course in the early 1990s, at which point it became the city's responsibility to maintain under state law. A 2014 site inspection by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) detected natural erosion of the cap which could allow toxins to leak out.
- While the golf course is technically across the street from the site, its driving range sits on the former landfill. A fishing lake, multiple creeks and a housing subdivision are also nearby which has increased concerns of potential environmental damage.
The Julietta Landfill started out as an illegal dumping site in the 1960s, was later taken over by a private operator for industrial waste in the 1970s and then used to store sewage biosolids by the city in the 1980s. A review of records by Indy Star indicate that state officials were concerned about pollution at the site and it remains unclear why the city decided to move forward with building the golf course. Recent water tests showed no signs of contamination, though issues have been noted in the past.
This is yet another example of the challenges involved with maintaining closed landfills that may have operated under very different standards decades ago. Without proper liners, leachate drainage and gas collection systems these sites can become toxic hazards. Potentially harmful chemicals found at closed landfills in New Hampshire and Vermont are the latest in a series of examples of this happening.
New Jersey is moving toward implementation of its Legacy Landfill Law which aims to address some of these issues, though the costs can be challenging. While IDEM is working with Indianapolis on a remediation plan, the financial burden currently falls on the city. Building on former landfill sites can be beneficial for many reasons but this idea can turn out to be very expensive without a proper closure strategy.