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Lehigh Valley
LeRoy, NY

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Michael Basile (716) 551-4410

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The Lehigh Valley Railroad Derailment Site (LVRR) in the Town of LeRoy, New York is the location of a chemical spill from a train derailment in 1970. .  The site encompasses portions of Gulf Road, the former railroad bed, and the properties next to the railroad crossing. The site is surrounded by residential, recreational and commercial areas.

Approximately one ton of cyanide crystals and approximately 30,000 gallons of Trichloroethene (TCE) spilled onto the ground. TCE is a volatile organic compound used primarily as an industrial solvent Shortly after the spill, drinking wells in the area were found to have TCE contamination. The Lehigh Valley Railroad, working with County and State health officials, provided drinking water to residents with contaminated wells and later installed filtration systems on the affected wells. Between April 1991 and May 1993, at the request of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), EPA used its short term cleanup authorities under the Superfund program to install granulated activated carbon treatment systems on 35 private wells affected by the contamination.

In 1997, the NYSDEC selected a cleanup plan in a Record of Decision (ROD) for the site consisting of: soil and bedrock vapor extraction, construction of water lines connecting all homes with impacted wells to a public water supply and monitoring of ground water. In January 1999, at NYSDEC’s request, EPA added LVRR to the Superfund National Priorities List as a result of hazardous chemicals detected in the soil and groundwater.

In 2003, an EPA/NYSDEC funded waterline extension was completed with 100% connection of affected residents. In September 2006   LVRR agreed to undertake the investigation and engineering work needed to treat soil, determine the extent of the ground water contamination and investigate whether vapors from the ground water were impacting homes. In addition, mitigation systems were installed to vent out the vapors in homes impacted by vapor intrusion.

LVRR  has performed extensive groundwater sampling since 2008. Based upon this and subsequent sampling, LVRR installed additional monitoring wells to supplement monitoring wells that had been installed by NYSDEC. Since 2008, 32 properties have been sampled for vapor intrusion.  Eleven of those properties needed vapor intrusion mitigation systems. The mitigation systems have been installed and have been effective in controlling the vapors. Homes over the ground water plume area will continue to be monitored for potential vapor intrusion impacts.

In 2012, LVRR installed additional monitoring wells east of Spring Creek. Results of groundwater sampling conducted to date have not revealed contamination migration past Spring Creek. Next, the Remedial Investigation Report will be completed. This report defines the nature and extent of groundwater contamination and is expected to be approved in late 2014.  LVRR will also be asked to  submit the Feasibility Study report, which evaluates options for cleaning up the groundwater contamination.

In 2013 LVRR submitted a Soil Vapor Intrusion (SVE) design for the cleanup of soils.  An EPA approved plan will be implemented to perform soil remediation in two phases: the first phase is to construct and perform a pilot test during the fall of 2014 on the south side of Gulf Road to evaluate the selected remedy of SVE and then make any design changes if necessary. The second phase of the plan is to construct and operate a full-scale SVE remedial system in the spring of 2015.  The full-scale system is anticipated to operate for two years. 

The plan involves placing a liner on the soil surface and a vacuum applied to the soil beneath to extract the TCE.  The extracted TCE concentrations are measured to monitor system performance and effectiveness.  At the end of the process, soil samples are collected and analyzed to demonstrate compliance with the established TCE soil criterion.  In order to prevent air pollution, the extracted TCE will be absorbed into carbon filters.


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