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Lehigh Valley
LeRoy, NY

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Involvement Coordinator

Michael Basile (716) 551-4410

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EPA added the Lehigh Valley Railroad Derailment Site in the Town of LeRoy, New York to the Superfund National Priorities List on January 19, 1999 because hazardous chemicals were found in the soil and ground water.  The site in Genesee County is the location of a chemical spill that resulted from a train derailment in 1970.  Approximately one ton of cyanide crystals and around 30,000 to 35,000 gallons of Trichloroethene (TCE), which is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that is a potentially harmful contaminant that can easily evaporate into the air, spilled onto the ground.  The site consists of 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.

As an immediate action, a cleanup including the removal of the cyanide crystals and the overturned car took place.  Shortly after the spill, drinking wells in the area were found to have TCE contamination.  The Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR) 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), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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.

Under its own state Superfund program, the NYSDEC issued a Record of Decision (ROD) in 1997, in which the method of cleanup selected for the Site was to consist of soil vapor extraction, vapor extraction of the bedrock, construction of water line to connect all homes with impacted wells to a public water supply and monitoring of ground water. At NYSDEC’s request, the EPA placed the Site on its National Priorities List of Federal Superfund sites in 1999. Shortly thereafter the EPA reviewed and affirmed the chosen cleanup actions, with the addition of provisions to further study the ground water.

In 2003, as part of NYSDEC’s 1997 ROD, an EPA/NYSDEC funded waterline extension was completed with 100% connection of affected residents. In September 2006, EPA signed an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent with LVRR requiring them 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 and to install systems to vent the vapors at homes if vapor intrusion is found.

Extensive groundwater sampling has been performed by LVRR since in 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 and eleven of the properties were found to need vapor intrusion mitigation systems. The mitigation systems have been installed and have been effective in controlling the vapors.  EPA will continue to monitor homes which overlay the ground water plume area for vapor intrusion issues. LVRR has submitted technical engineering plans related to the cleanup of the bedrock and soil.


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