The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recently that a $10M cleanup of contaminated soil will begin in mid- to late September at the Solvent Savers Superfund site, a chemical waste recovery facility, in Lincklaen in Chenango County, New York. Soil and ground water on the site were contaminated with volatile organic compounds and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) by past waste disposal activities at the site. These chemicals can cause serious damage to people’s health and the environment. In addition to the work announced today, the EPA is also reviewing a work plan to build a system to treat the contamination in the ground water.
The EPA will hold a public meeting on September 28, 2012 to explain the soil cleanup work and answer any questions the public may have. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Lincklaen Town Hall, 651 Union Valley-Lincklaen Rd., DeRuyter, NY 13052.
Solvent Savers, Inc. operated as a chemical waste recovery operation at the site on Union Valley Road where industrial solvents and other wastes were reprocessed or disposed of from about 1967 to 1974. The company recovered solvents sent by the parties responsible for the cleanup for reuse, reconditioned drums, and buried liquids, solids, sludge, and drums in several areas at the site. Based on environmental findings by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and a subsequent investigation by the EPA, the site was placed on the Superfund list of hazardous waste sites in 1983.
The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the country’s most contaminated hazardous waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups.
The design of the work plan and the cleanup of the Solvent Savers Superfund site are being conducted and paid for by the parties responsible for the contamination, with oversight by the EPA. These companies are American Locker Group, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Inc., General Electric Company, Inc., International Business Machines Corporation, Pass & Seymour Corporation as well as the United States Air Force.
The EPA has already addressed the most immediate risks posed by the site and developed a detailed plan to handle the more complex long-term cleanup of the site. One hundred and sixty drums and drum parts buried on-site were excavated and removed. Soil excavated during the removal of the drums was also removed.
Once the immediate risks were addressed, a soil vapor extraction treatment system was used to reduce the volatile organic compounds in the soil. This method removes harmful chemicals from the soil in the form of vapor by applying a vacuum. At the Solvent Savers site, this method successfully reduced the volume of soil that was contaminated with volatile organic compounds from approximately 135,000 cubic yards to about 6,500 cubic yards. The remaining volatile organic compounds are located in two “hot spot” areas that are also contaminated with PCBs. In addition, soil in other areas of the site is contaminated with PCBs.
The work announced today will address the hot spots and the other areas of soil contaminated with PCBs. Soil that is contaminated with volatile organic compounds and PCBs will be excavated and disposed of off-site at EPA-approved facilities. Excavated soil that has high levels of PCBs will be treated by introducing an agent similar to cement to bind the contaminants before it is disposed of off-site.
Approximately 15,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be excavated and properly disposed of off-site. All excavated areas will be filled with clean soil and re-planted with vegetation. The work is estimated to take about 13 months to complete. Efforts will be made to minimize site-related traffic during the work and health and safety procedures, including air monitoring around the work zone and site perimeter, will be in place to protect the surrounding community.
Work related to designing a system to extract and treat the contaminated ground water is currently underway. The EPA’s long-term cleanup plan calls for the completion of construction of the system in 2015.
For more information about the site, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/solventsavers/.