News Releases from Region 02
EPA Finalizes Changes to Cleanup Plan at Olean Well Field Site - AVX Property in Olean, NY
(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its changes to a cleanup plan originally issued in 1996 to address soil and groundwater at the AVX property at the Olean Well Field Superfund Site in Cattaraugus County, Olean, NY. Soil and groundwater at the AVX property located at 1695 Seneca Avenue are contaminated with volatile organic compounds, which are often found in paint, solvents, aerosol sprays, cleaners, disinfectants, automotive products and dry cleaning fluids. The modified plan calls for building a groundwater collection trench and continuously pumping the AVX production well to contain the groundwater contamination and using existing barriers such as the building and pavement to contain the soil contamination.
The EPA held a public meeting in Olean, N.Y. on June 23, 2015 to explain its decision. The EPA accepted public comments for 30 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.
The Olean Well Field is a 1.5 square-mile area located in Cattaraugus County that contains 53 wells, homes, and facilities with manufacturing operations. The Allegheny River and two of its tributaries, the Olean and Haskell Creeks, flow through the site. Previous industrial operations at the AVX property contaminated the soil and groundwater with volatile organic compounds. The site was added to the Superfund list in 1983. The AVX property currently houses an active industrial facility where electronic components are manufactured by AVX Corporation.
Olean city officials discovered volatile organic compounds at the site in 1981 and later installed treatment units for drinking water on private wells. EPA also installed treatment systems on public wells to reduce the contamination to levels that protect human health. Contaminated soil was removed from certain properties within the site. The city water lines were extended from the Town of Olean to connect to approximately 93 homes which were previously served by private wells. Water mains were also extended to provide safe fire hydrants for the community. Five thousand feet of sewer lines were replaced or cleaned. An industrial sewer at the former McGraw-Edison property was inspected, and necessary repairs and replacements were made.
An EPA study identified four properties as sources of contamination. These properties are Alcas (currently owned and operated by Cutco Corporation), McGraw Edison (currently owned and operated by Cooper Power Systems, LLC), the former Loohn's Dry Cleaners and Launderers property (currently a vacant lot), and the AVX property.
Under the 1996 cleanup plan, a groundwater treatment system was installed at the McGraw-Edison property, and about 10,000 tons of contaminated soil were removed from the Loohn's property where a dry cleaning building was also demolished. Extensive additional contamination was discovered at both the Alcas and AVX properties after the 1996 cleanup plan. At AVX, approximately 5,000 tons of contaminated soils were removed before the cleanup was halted. Additional studies were then undertaken at each property. In 2014, as part of a distinct phase of work, EPA selected a cleanup plan for the Alcas property that provides for cleanup of the soil and groundwater.
The changes finalized this week address the AVX property which occupies 18.5 acres and includes a building and parking areas, as well as wetlands and a wooded area to the south of the building.
The EPA changed its cleanup plan for the AVX property because extensive contamination beneath the property was not known at the time of the original cleanup plan. Since additional excavation of contaminated soil would result in significant disruption to and shutdown of the on-going manufacturing operations at the AVX property, EPA has decided to contain the contamination in the soil by preventing it from further contaminating the groundwater until the use of the building changes such that excavation or treatment of soil becomes a viable option.
In addition to measures to make sure contamination doesn't spread from the AVX property, specifically building a trench, continuously pumping the AVX production well, and utilizing the existing building and pavement as barriers, the EPA will prevent activities that could disturb the site and ensure that use of the property protects people's health.
The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. AVX Corporation, which is responsible for the AVX property, performed the initial cleanup and additional studies under an agreement with EPA and EPA expects it will enter into an agreement with AVX, or otherwise require it, to perform the work being planned.
To learn more about the Olean site, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/olean/
The record of decision will be available at: http://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/02/372868