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EPA Proposes Cleanup Plan for Groundwater Contamination Problem at Industrial Park in Hicksville, Public Meeting Set

Release Date: 08/02/2000
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(#00146) NEW YORK -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a cleanup plan for a complex groundwater contamination problem associated with the Hooker Chemical/Ruco Polymer Federal Superfund site, an active chemical manufacturing facility located in an industrial section of Hicksville, Long Island. EPA has scheduled a public meeting to discuss its plan on August 15 starting at 7 P.M. at the Oyster Bay Town Hall at 54 Audrey Avenue, Oyster Bay, New York.

Past waste disposal practices at the Hooker/Ruco facility and two other adjacent facilities, Northrop/Grumman and the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant (NWIRP), have resulted in the contamination of area groundwater with volatile organic compounds (VOC). The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is overseeing interim groundwater cleanups underway at the two adjacent hazardous waste sites. Groundwater contamination from the sites, which consists of commingling chemical plumes associated with the three facilities, was affecting several public water supply wells in the Bethpage Water District. However, Northrop/Grumman and NWIRP have provided chemical treatment systems for the affected wells, and the local public water distribution system continues to meet all New York State and Federal drinking water standards.

EPA’s proposed cleanup system for the active Hooker/Ruco facility would remediate a distinct plume of groundwater contaminated with vinyl chloride, the primary contaminant at the site, using an innovative treatment system called "biosparging." Biosparging is a form of bioremediation that involves the introduction of air/oxygen into the aquifer to enhance the natural breakdown of the vinyl chloride in the groundwater. This treatment system would operate in addition to the interim groundwater treatment systems that are already operating under NYSDEC authority to effectively remove a mix of VOCs emanating from the sites. NYSDEC has reviewed the proposed cleanup plan for the Hooker/Ruco site and concurs with EPA’s proposal.

EPA intends to pursue private parties responsible for the contamination to design and construct the proposed $3.8 million system at the Hooker/Ruco facility, thereby sparing the public any expense in the contaminated groundwater cleanup.

From 1989 to the present, EPA has conducted numerous activities at the Hooker/Ruco site, including the removal of more than 3,300 tons of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated soil, which eliminated the most immediate threat to human health at the site.

As part of its Superfund community involvement program, EPA is holding a public comment period for its proposed cleanup plan from July 28 to August 28. Copies of the proposed plan are available for public review at the Hicksville Public Library at 169 Jerusalem Avenue. Contact the Reference Desk at (516) 931-1417. Comments should be addressed to Syed M. Quadri, Project Manager, New York Remediation Branch, Superfund, USEPA, 290 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, New York 10007-1866.

Site Background

Operations at the Hooker/Ruco Superfund site began in 1945 and have continued to the present day under a number of different owners and names, beginning with the Rubber Corporation of America from 1945 until 1956, when a polyvinyl chloride plant was operated on the site under the name of Insular Chemical Corporation. In 1965 the company was purchased by the Hooker Chemical Company, which has undergone several name changes over the years, with the current name being Occidental Chemical Company. In 1982, the employees bought the company from Occidental, and it became known as the Ruco Polymer Corporation. In 1998, Sybron Chemicals Inc. acquired Ruco Polymer.

The facility has been used for the production of various polymers since 1946 and is currently manufacturing such products as polyester, polyols and powder coating resins. During site operations over the years, industrial wastewater from the facility was discharged to six on-site recharge basins or sumps. This wastewater contained, among other things, vinyl chloride, trichloroethylene, barium and cadmium soap, and vinyl acetate. As a result of these releases, groundwater beneath and downgradient from the site has been contaminated. The site was placed on EPA's National Priorities List (NPL) in 1984, making it eligible for cleanup under Superfund.