In search of a new thrill, joy-riders have turned the Solley Road Hazardous Waste Dump into a race track.
But by tearing up the turf at the old landfill, off-road vehicles are damaging the dump's protective cap, risking further environmental damage at a site already on the EPA Superfund clean-up list.
Broken-down sections of barbed-wire fence up to 18 feet wide provide the off-road motorcyclists with easy access to the dump that is now riddled with paths on the 130-foot mounds formed by 20 years of municipal and hazardous wastes.
"It's a horrendous situation in there," said environmental activist Mary Rosso, a Silver Sands resident who was among the first to fight to close the dump.
"But I doubt you'd see many people riding in the dump if they knew what kind of witch's brew they were stirring up," Rosso said, shifting the blame for the problem to the landfill's owner, Browning-Ferris Industries.
Rosso insists the company hasn't done enough to keep vandals off the property.
There are no signs or other warnings that the two mountains were formed by hundreds of thousands of tons of municipal and hazardous wastes. The two mounds, known as the east and west fills, were "capped" with a 5-foot clay-soil-clay sandwich when the dump was closed down by environmentalists in 1982.
Only an occasional waft of the odor of solvents betrays the fact that the state has discovered carcinogens -- mostly Trichloroethene -- seeping into the ground water underneath the mounds in concentrations 170 times the limits considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The tire tracks and gullies, for instance, might not be discovered for days or weeks since BFI is only required to inspect the dump twice a month.
Sgt. Starr Turczyk, a spokesman for the county's North District police station, said protection of the property is the company's responsibility, unless someone calls the police department to make a specific trespassing complaint.
"We can't patrol the wilderness back there," Turczyk said, suggesting that a sign indicating that hazardous wastes are buried inside the fence would be a good deterrent to the vandalism and trespassing.
BFI representatives say they are aware of the problem and will be working in the future to repair the fences and post more signs.
"Security at any sight is a challenge," said Frank Camilli of the Houston-based company's Atlantic division. "We would appreciate it if anyone who witnesses any vandalism would contact the local authorities."
Delegate W. Ray Huff, D-Pasadena, who said he has seen motorcycles entering the area, said the signs at the site that warn, "Danger -- Unauthorized Personnel Stay Out," don't convey the message.
"I think it has to be more alarming -- something with the hazardous waste symbol on it," Huff said.