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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Encourages the Public to Comment on Revisions to Cleanup Plan for Fulton Avenue Superfund Site in Nassau County, New York

Contact Information: 
Elias Rodriguez (rodriguez.elias@epa.gov)

(New York, N.Y. - April 24, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to modify an interim cleanup plan originally issued in 2007 to address a portion of the contaminated groundwater at the Fulton Avenue Superfund site in the Towns of North Hempstead and Hempstead, New York. The groundwater is contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including tetrachloroethylene (PCE), that resulted in part from previous dry cleaning operations conducted by a fabric-cutting mill at 150 Fulton Avenue in Garden City Park, New York. The modified plan proposed by EPA calls for continuing to operate existing treatment systems for Village of Garden City drinking water supply wells 13 and 14, but eliminates plans for a separate groundwater treatment system for the groundwater near 150 Fulton Avenue. This separate system is not needed, at this time, in part because contamination levels in this area of groundwater have been declining since EPA issued its 2007 cleanup decision. The EPA is taking public comments in this proposal until May 26, 2015 and will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 7:00 PM at the Garden City Village Hall, Garden City, NY 11531.

"Long Island relies on groundwater as its major source of drinking water, so it is essential that groundwater resources be protected from toxic contamination," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck.

VOCs can cause cancer and other health impacts. The extent and nature of potential health effects depend on many factors, including the contaminant levels and the length of exposure to the pollution.
Public water supply wells impacted by the contamination have treatment systems and are monitored regularly to ensure that the water quality meets federal and state drinking water standards.

The Fulton Avenue site also includes trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination in groundwater that is being addressed as part of a second phase of work. The EPA is performing an investigation to evaluate the problem and develop a proposed plan for the second phase.

From approximately 1965 to 1974, the fabric-cutting mill at 150 Fulton Avenue was operated by several businesses, including a division of Genesco Inc. Volatile organic compounds from dry cleaning operations at the mill, primarily PCE, were disposed of in a well and seeped into the groundwater beneath the 150 Fulton Avenue property, which has been owned by Gordon Atlantic Corporation since 1963. With the support of New York State, the site was added to the Superfund list in 1998, with New York State taking the lead.

From 1998 to 2004, Genesco Inc. took certain actions under state oversight to address some of the contamination at the site. The company installed a system to extract VOC vapors from the soil using a type of vacuum.

A technology called air sparging was also used to reduce the contamination in the groundwater underneath 150 Fulton Avenue until contaminant concentrations met New York State requirements. Air sparging is the process of injecting air directly into the contaminated groundwater to reduce VOCs. In addition, a ventilation system was installed to protect occupants of the building at 150 Fulton Avenue from chemical vapors that may enter from under the building there.

In 2007, the EPA issued a cleanup plan requiring the construction of a groundwater pump and treatment system nearby in the Village of Garden City, New York, and the treatment of portions of the groundwater containing higher-level PCE contamination at or in the vicinity of the Fulton Property.
After EPA issued its 2007 cleanup decision, sampling results showed that the levels of PCE contamination in the groundwater beneath a portion of the site are declining, and the EPA has therefore determined that the separate groundwater treatment system is not necessary as part of this interim cleanup plan. The EPA will continue to investigate other areas for possible contamination sources that may need to be addressed.

Periodic sampling shows that the existing treatment system for two of the Village of Garden City's wells (Nos. 13 and 14) continues to protect the public from exposure to site-related VOCs, including PCE. The pumping of these wells is helping to limit the amount and movement of the contamination in the groundwater near wells 13 and 14.

Currently, the groundwater entering wells 13 and 14 is pumped to the surface and treated using an air stripper, which forces air through polluted groundwater to remove harmful chemicals. This system will continue to be operated and maintained until a final remedial approach for the site is implemented.
The proposed modification of the cleanup plan includes other elements, such as an evaluation of chemical vapors that may enter nearby buildings, and also relies upon an existing Nassau County law that restricts the installation of private drinking water wells.

The modified remedy will also include sampling and analysis of a monitoring well network and of wells 13 and 14 to ensure protection of public health.

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination at sites that are placed on the Superfund list and it seeks to hold those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The EPA expects to modify an existing settlement with Genesco, Inc. to undertake the cleanup with EPA oversight. The estimated cost of the cleanup is approximately $4 million.

Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:

Kevin Willis, Project Manager
United States Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10007-1866
(212) 637-4252

The plan for the site will be available at http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/fulton/

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