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The Little Valley site is located in a rural area between Little Valley and Salamanca, New York, which is part of the Allegheny Indian Reservation. In 1982 the Cattaraugus County Health Department (CCHD) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) identified trichloroethene (TCE), an industrial solvent, in private wells along Route 353. A seven-mile stretch of ground water experienced TCE contamination from a number of possible sources, including a former drum storage area, an inactive municipal landfill and industrial facilities. Private wells are the sole source of drinking water for roughly 200 homes and small businesses in the area.
Although CCHD found TCE levels greater than or equal to the state drinking water standard, samples from area wells between 1989 and 1995 did not reveal contamination at levels that would pose an immediate threat to public health. The duration of the contamination did present potential long-term exposure risks to residents, though.
In 1997, EPA installed treatment systems on over 90 private wells with TCE concentrations above the state drinking water standard. Five-year reviews in May 2002 and May 2007 concluded that the remedy is functioning as intended. Samples indicate that TCE concentrations are decreasing in nearly all the wells, and the filters will remain in use until the pre-filtered TCE levels drop below the state drinking water standard.
Concerns about vapors from contaminated ground water moving through the soil and into the air inside homes—a process known as vapor intrusion—prompted EPA to take soil samples near some area homes. The Agency subsequently began the process of extracting TCE from the soil through the in-situ soil vapor extraction (ISVE) method. ISVE pulls air through the soil to cause the contamination to evaporate, trapping TCE and releasing clean air. The final remedy, which treated approximately 3000 cubic yards of soil, concluded on September 29, 2006.