The Lexington County Landfill in South Carolina was comprised of three landfills that operated from the 1960s to 1990 and received municipal solid waste as well as industrial wastes and petroleum products (EPA 2014, 2). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found history of poor disposal practices, lack of a landfill liner, and failing landfill covers that were contaminating soil and ground water with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and metals (EPA 2014, 2). This led to the EPA placing it on the National Priorities List in 1989 under the Superfund program (EPA 2014, 2).
The Superfund program allowed the EPA to investigate the cleanup options and provide oversight to Lexington County who was responsible for the cleanup costs and efforts. This support allowed Lexington County to work with a variety of different stakeholders including the EPA, South Carolina, the University of South Carolina, engineering firms, and private developers (EPA 2015, 1:30). Lexington County was able to cap the landfills, implement a landfill gas collection and venting system, develop a groundwater treatment system, and cover the cap with recycled materials and other thick materials that support vegetative cover (EPA 2014, 3). They were able to accomplish this while working with businesses to develop reuse options as well.
With their university and business partnerships, they were able to develop a mini-golf course, a golf driving range and practice course, a baseball field, and a recycling center (EPA 2014, 4). This meant that their investments did not just clean up the site, but also created economic development for the region that resulted in jobs, improved recycling, higher tax revenue, and sports opportunities for the nearby college and citizens (EPA 2014, 5-6). This success story could not have happened without community collaboration and the support of the EPA through the Superfund process. While the Superfund act did not provide funding for the cleanup, it did provide the County with site evaluation and cleanup options through EPA’s collaborative efforts (EPA 2014, 2). This enabled the partnerships required for cleanup and reuse that showcased how Superfund redevelopment can improve a community. The Superfund program is often seen as contentious from a liability and cost-effectiveness perspective (Salzman and Thompson 2019, 265). However, projects like this provide examples of how collaboration between responsible parties, regulators, and businesses can lead to environmental and economic improvement for a region.
Author: Logan Callen
EPA. 2015. “Lexington County Landfill Area: West Columbia’s Recreational Gem.” YouTube. September 30. Accessed July 18, 2022. https://youtu.be/82l1uynsmho.
—. 2014. “Reuse and the Benefit to Community: Lexington County Landfill Superfund Site.” EPA.gov. Accessed July 18, 2022. http://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/04/11121289.
Salzman, James, and Barton H. Jr. Thompson. 2019. Environmental Law and Policy. 5th ed. St. Paul, MN: Foundation Press.