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Cayuga County Groundwater Contamination Site
Union Springs, NY

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Michael Basile - (716) 551-4410 basile.michael@epa.gov

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EPA has finalized a plan to address contaminated ground water at the Cayuga County Ground Water Contamination site in Cayugqa County, New York. Ground water at the site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds, which can cause serious damage to the people's health and the environment. The General Electric Company (GE) owned and manufactured semiconductors at a facility on Genesee Street in the City of Auburn. For a time, Powerex, Inc. a joint venture of GE and others, bought the facility and conducted similar operations there.

The final cleanup plan divides the ground water beneath the site into three areas. For Area 1, which is the most contaminated area, the EPA will use bioremediation, a technique that involves adding chemicals and biological enhancements to the ground water to promote the breakdown of the volatile organic compounds. The specific type of chemical and process to be used will be determined by EPA as part of the design of the cleanup. For Area 2 of the ground water, which contains lower levels of volatile organic compounds, EPA will use natural processes to reduce the level of contamination to meet ground water standards. EPA is requiring periodic collection and analyses of ground water samples to verify that the level and extent of contaminants are declining. EPA is deferring a decision on how to clean up the ground water in Area 3. They will do further investigation of that area prior to issuing a final cleanup decision.

The site includes contaminated ground water that covers approximately 4.8 square miles extending from Auburn to the Village of Union Springs and is comprised of the townships of Aurelius, Fleming and Springport. The site contains mostly residential properties mixed with farmland, woodlands and commercial areas. Many area homes get their drinking water from public water supply wells. Routine testing in 1988 of the Village of Union Springs' municipal water supply showed that the water contained volatile organic compounds that can negatively impact health. Cayuga County installed a treatment system on the public water supply. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and EPA investigated and determined that 51 private residential wells in the area were contaminated with volatile organic compounds, In 2000, EPA began supplying bottled water to affected residents while they provided treatment systems in the homes and at three area farms. Later, all but one of the homes sampled by EPA and impacted by the site were connected to the public water system and no longer get their drinking water from private wells. Currently GE maintains and supports the operations of the treatment systems at the one residential and three agricultural wells.

EPA added the Cayuga County Groundwater Contamination site to the Superfund National Priorities list on September 5. 2002.


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