Alfred Heller Heat Treating
Vapor Intrusion Site Investigation
Sophia Kelley – (212) 637-3670
The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a soil, groundwater and vapor intrusion investigation in the vicinity of the former Alfred Heller Heat Treating facility located at 5 Wellington Street, Clifton, New Jersey 07010.
EPA became involved at the Alfred Heller Heat Treating Site at the request of the Clifton Fire Department and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. An initial inspection in early March 2009 revealed several drums of chemicals and hazardous materials along with partially filled vats, tanks and equipment reservoirs on the property. Between April 2009 and January 2010, the EPA conducted a cleanup at the facility that included the removal and disposal of more than 500 drums of assorted chemicals as well as the removal of all wastes from vats, tanks and equipment reservoirs.
During the cleanup it became apparent that poor housekeeping practices at the facility had resulted in chemical spillage during plant operations. This discovery prompted the EPA to test soil and groundwater for contamination. EPA’s sampling results from March 2012 and the results of a previous investigation revealed the presence of elevated levels of trichloroethene (TCE) in the groundwater in the area of the former Alfred Heller Heat Treating facility. TCE was also found in elevated levels in soil on site property.
TCE is a volatile organic compound and can emit vapors that may migrate through soil into indoor air spaces of overlying buildings. Risks depend on a variety of factors including openings in the building foundation, concentrations of the chemical and the building’s ventilation.
The EPA has installed 12 monitoring wells in the area to help determine the nature and extent of the contamination in the groundwater. Two rounds of sampling were conducted in May 2011 and March 2012. The results from these samples have helped to identify an area of groundwater contamination referred to as the plume. Three phases of residential sub-slab and indoor air sampling have been conducted to investigate the potential for vapor intrusion into homes that are over or adjacent to the plume. The latest phase of sampling was completed in April 2014.
Results from residential sampling indicate that two houses have indoor air contaminated with TCE and 13 other homes have TCE in detectable levels underneath the home, but not in the indoor air. All 15 affected homes are being offered vapor mitigation systems which serve to prevent the buildup of vapors and disperse them above house rooflines.
The EPA is continuing its investigation of the contaminated groundwater and will be installing more monitoring wells to better define the northern limits of the plume. In addition, sub-slab and indoor air sampling will determine if contamination levels and affected areas are changing.
The Alfred Heller Heat Treating Company was founded in 1933 to provide heat treating and metal finishing services to the metalworking industry in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. The company moved to its present location in 1962. The facility is about four acres in size and contains six contiguous buildings. In January 2009, Alfred Heller Heat Treating entered into Chapter 7 bankruptcy.