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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Proposes Plan to Improve Effectiveness of Groundwater Cleanup in Vestal, N.Y. Public Meeting: Aug. 30 at 7:00 p.m., Vestal Town Hall

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

(New York, N.Y. – August 23, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a plan to thermally treat, move and capture volatile organic compounds that are contaminating soil and are a source of groundwater contamination at the Vestal Water Supply Well 1-1 Superfund site in Vestal, Broome County, N.Y. In addition, soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) will be excavated from an area of the site. The cost of this cleanup will be approximately $14.5 million.

Many VOCs are known to cause cancer in animals and can cause cancer in people. PCBs can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and are potentially cancer-causing.

“Groundwater is a vital public resource,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA’s top priority is protecting public health and the environment. This proposal addresses a legacy of toxic pollution that will help clean up this community’s groundwater.”

The EPA will hold a public meeting on August 30, 2016 to explain the proposed plan and other cleanup alternatives that were considered, and is encouraging public comments on the various cleanup options. The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Vestal Town Hall, 605 Vestal Parkway West Vestal, N.Y. Public comments will be accepted until September 21, 2016.

In 1978, after Vestal Water Supply Well 1-1 was found to contain hazardous substances, the EPA installed a treatment system to address the groundwater contamination. In 1990, this well was taken out of service as a public water supply well. The current drinking water supply for the Vestal community is monitored regularly to ensure that water quality meets drinking water standards.

The proposed plan builds on decades of work by the EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to clean up groundwater at the site, and the contaminated soil at the site, which has been an ongoing source of groundwater contamination. Previously, the EPA utilized 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 successfully removed contamination from one location at the site. Soil conditions prevented the system from completely removing the contamination at 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 is proposing to use thermal treatment methods at two remaining locations to move or “mobilize” VOCs in soil. The mobilized chemicals will be collected in wells and piped to the ground surface, where they will be treated using other methods. Some chemicals are destroyed underground during the heating process. In one of the two locations, the EPA is additionally proposing to excavate soil and other materials that have been contaminated with 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. Monitoring and testing will continue throughout the cleanup to ensure the effectiveness of the remedy. The EPA expects to conduct a review within 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 Superfund money to pay for the cleanup work.

Written comments may be mailed or emailed to:

Damian Duda, Remedial Project Manager

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

290 Broadway, 20th Floor

New York, N.Y. 10007

 (212) 637-4269


To view the proposed plan, visit: https://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/02/393181

For more information on the Vestal Water Supply Well 1-1 Superfund site: www.epa.gov/superfund/vestal-well-1-1

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