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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Finalizes $14 Million Plan to Improve Groundwater Cleanup in Vestal, N.Y.

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

(New York, N.Y. – Oct. 4, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to thermally treat, move and capture volatile organic compounds that are contaminating soil that is a source of groundwater contamination at the Vestal Water Supply Well 1-1 Superfund site in Vestal, Broome County, N.Y. In addition, some of the soil is contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which will be excavated and removed from the site. The cost of this cleanup is approximately $14 million.

Volatile organic compounds can evaporate into the air and potentially impact people’s health. Many volatile organic compounds can cause cancer. PCBs can damage the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer-causing.

“While the EPA has worked to address contamination at this site, an areas of soil contamination that was polluting the groundwater was not responding to a treatment system EPA had previously installed,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Under this plan, EPA will install a soil treatment system that should be able to handle this area of contaminated soil and eliminate it as source of contamination to the groundwater.”

After the Vestal Water Supply Well 1-1 site was found to contain hazardous substances, the EPA installed a treatment system to address the groundwater contamination. This well later was taken out of service as a public water supply well. The current public drinking water supply for the Vestal community is monitored regularly to ensure that water quality meets drinking water standards.

The final EPA plan builds on decades of work by the EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to address contaminated soil and groundwater at the site. The EPA plan will address contaminated soil at the site, which has been an ongoing source of groundwater contamination. Previously, the EPA installed a soil cleanup system that removed harmful chemicals from soil by extracting them in vapor form and then filtering the vapors through carbon filters to remove contaminants. The system removed the volatile organic compound contamination from one location at the site. Soil conditions prevented the system from completely removing the contamination from a second location. Therefore, the EPA conducted additional investigations to modify the cleanup approach at that location. The EPA’s current cleanup goal is to reduce the concentrations of chemicals in the soil until they reach levels that will no longer contaminate the groundwater. The EPA now will use thermal treatment methods at two remaining locations to remove or “mobilize” volatile organic compounds in soil. The chemicals will be collected in wells and piped to the surface, where they will be treated using other methods. Some chemicals are destroyed underground during the heating process. In addition, in another area of soil at the site, the EPA will excavate soil and other materials that have been contaminated with volatile organic compounds and high levels of PCBs. The PCBs will be disposed of at a facility licensed to receive such waste.

The EPA has periodically collected and analyzed groundwater samples to ensure that the water supply is not impacted, and to assess the impact of the contaminated soil on the groundwater. The EPA will conduct a review every five years to ensure the effectiveness of the selected cleanup plan.

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. Three potentially responsible parties - American Board Companies, Inc., Chenango Liquidators of New York, Inc., and Great American Industries, Inc. - previously resolved their liability for the site in a settlement with the EPA. The EPA will use the Superfund program, funded by taxpayers, to pay for this cleanup work.

The EPA held a public meeting in Vestal on August 30, 2016 to explain its proposed plan. The EPA accepted public comments for 30 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.

To view the final cleanup plan, visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/vestal-well-1-1

For a direct link to the final cleanup plan, please visit: https://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/02/393191

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