Environmentalists welcome new rules for construction landfills

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - New rules that tighten restrictions on where construction debris landfills can operate will be in place by mid-June, the state Environmental Protection Agency said.

New or expanded landfills -- which accept bricks, drywall and wood from construction and demolition sites -- must be 500 feet from parks, lakes or reservoirs, state forests and occupied homes, under a bill signed by Gov. Bob Taft in December.

The law also expands groundwater monitoring and runoff testing.

"This long overdue legislation is strong and comprehensive," said Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council, an advocacy group.

Local health departments will continue to be in charge of inspecting facilities.

There are about 70 construction landfills in Ohio now, many of them in the northeast part of the state.

Last April, the U.S. EPA started a $3 million Superfund cleanup of a construction landfill in Warren, where crushed drywall mixed with rain to form hydrogen sulfide gas, a toxic substance that smells like rotten eggs.

A subsequent study by the state EPA found high levels of lead, arsenic and cyanide leaking from other sites as rain fell.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)