New Study Will Focus On Toxic Waste Dump In Jefferson Memorial Forest

The new study will take stock of all the waste put into the forest three decades ago

Jul 10, 2024 at 3:52 pm
The waste that was dumped three decades ago will be looked at for ways to dispose of it.
The waste that was dumped three decades ago will be looked at for ways to dispose of it. Sam Satterly

The Louisville Metro Council has approved a $68,000 study with the Shield Environmental Associates (SEA) to take soil samples of Jefferson Memorial Forest to look into toxic waste dumped into the forest three decades ago.


Shield Environmental Associates last did a study over ten years ago, and found that cleanup costs could add up to more than $900,000. However, no cleanup ever happened, and the same waste has been sitting in the forest ever since.


The study this year will cover “600 linear feet of trenching… with each trench being approximately 6-feet in depth.” Samples will be taken every 50 feet and tested on-site for “contaminants of concern” that were found in the 2011 investigation.


What’s known as “The Gully of the Drums” is a spot in the Jefferson Memorial Forest that was left behind after the Environmental Protection Agency last cleaned up the forest 45 years ago. The same toxic waste has been left behind since, with state officials urging the city to look into the waste to figure out the extent of the waste.


The following are considered contaminants of concern:

  • Total Metals (Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead)
  • Hexavalent Chromium, Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

The study will also look at the most effective and appropriate manner in which to dispose of the waste debris and the impacted soil.


The newest contract with the SEA will run through Sept. 1, after which the city will determine what it will do next with the findings of the study. Kentucky state lawmakers did approve $2.5 million towards land acquisition and improvements to the Jefferson Memorial Forest, with city council members potentially asking for more.