MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — As Waste Management (WM) looks to expand the Orchard Ridge landfill, residents who live nearby are hoping to form a Community Advisory Group to have some influence on the project’s future.

Penelope Waggoner lives about a mile away from Orchard Ridge, which is the largest landfill in Wisconsin. She said she is concerned about how expansion could affect the community in the future.

Waggoner explained that the part of the landfill on Boundary Rd. is called a Superfund site. This means the EPA has designated it a contaminated area for cleanup.

“The Superfund site was declared a site in 1984. Toxic materials were stored there from 1954 to 1971 in what was at one time called the Lauer landfill,” said Waggoner. “If anyone is interested in knowing the chemicals that are buried there. There’s 10 million gallons of toxic and volatile and semi-volatile chemicals.”

(Spectrum News/Phillip Boudreaux)

She hopes they can form a Community Advisory Group (CAG) to express their concerns.

“It’s a way to dialogue with the EPA and the DNR so that people’s best interests are met,” said Waggoner. “It also functions to inform the public.”

WM has plans to dig up the superfund site to expand Orchard Ridge’s capacity. The company explained their plan is to excavate the Superfund site on Boundary Road.

As the materials are dug up, they will be screened. Hazardous waste will be removed from the site completely while everything else will be placed into Orchard Ridge to fit within the landfill’s modern standards.

Waggoner is worried about what digging this up can mean.

“Joint reviews are done by the EPA and DNR together and [the Superfund site] always found to be protective of human health and the environment. There is no reason to disturb this site,” said Waggoner.

WM submitted their Plan of Operation for the project to the DNR back in February

The DNR responded they needed more information on how the hazardous waste will be disposed of in order to make a decision on the expansion.

Waggoner also pointed out that there is no time limit for WM to respond to the DNR. She believes, however, if the project moved forward, excavating the site would be hazardous for the environment.

“If this exhumation takes place, it will take contaminated dust and toxins in the air and it will coat the land, coat animals, it will contaminate the groundwater underneath and flow to the Menomonee River into Lake Michigan and also to all the wells and underground’s streams,” said Waggoner.

Although the CAG will not have any say or control on how WM carries out the expansion, Waggoner said dozens of residents expressed interest in forming this type of group.

They are now waiting for the DNR to process their request. Waggoner hopes with the CAG that concerned citizens, the EPA, the DNR and WM can work together to make the best decision for the project.

Spectrum News also reached out to the DNR about the status of the CAG for Orchard Ridge but has not heard back.

Waggoner encourages anyone and especially those in the Menomonee Falls to sign up to the mailing list of for updates on the potential expansion.