MAY 2012

EPA reaches agreement on NY landfill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has entered into an agreement with the General Electric Company and SI Group, Inc. (formerly Schenectady Chemical) to collect and properly dispose of contaminated ground water and liquid leaching from the Dewey Loeffel landfill in Nassau, New York that is threatening several nearby drinking water wells. The liquid seeping from the landfill, called leachate, and the ground water are contaminated with volatile organic compounds.

The EPA is currently collecting the contaminated liquid waste and sending it off-site for disposal. Under the agreement, General Electric and SI will take on the collection and removal of the waste and the construction of a treatment plant adjacent to the landfill, all with EPA oversight. The waste will continue to be sent off-site until the construction of the treatment plant is completed. Treated water from the new system will be discharged to surface water only after the EPA verifies that sampling data shows that the treatment system is working effectively and is capable of meeting stringent state discharge limits. GE and SI Group have agreed to reimburse EPA for certain costs, including an upfront payment of $800,000.

The treatment system to be constructed will address potential threats from the contaminated ground water and leachate and community concerns about trucking the contaminated liquid off-site. A comprehensive long-term study is underway, which will identify permanent clean up options, called remedial actions, for the contaminated ground water, surface water and sediment associated with the site. The permanent clean up plan may include changes to the leachate collection, ground water extraction and treatment systems.

From 1952 until 1968, the site was used for the disposal of an estimated 46,000 tons of waste materials generated by several Capital District companies. The waste included industrial solvents, waste oils, polychlorinated biphenyls, scrap materials, sludge and solids. Volatile organic compounds and other hazardous substances have seeped out of the landfill and contaminated the ground water. PCBs have also moved downstream, causing contamination of sediment and several species of fish in and near Nassau Lake.

From 1980 until the site was added to the federal Superfund list in May 2011, numerous investigations and clean up actions were performed at the site under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Superfund program. In the fall of 2011, the EPA took responsibility for operating ground water and leachate collection systems that had been installed by the state.