EPA Announces Agreements with Companies to Conduct Studies of Contamination at the Site Total Actions Expected to Cost at Least $4.5 Million

(New York, N.Y. – Nov. 26, 2013) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck today visited the Dewey Loeffel Landfill Superfund site in Nassau, Rensselaer County, New York to announce that General Electric Company and SI Group, Inc. (formerly Schenectady Chemical) have agreed to conduct comprehensive studies of the contamination at the Dewey Loeffel Landfill Superfund site. The site, which is located four miles northeast of the village of Nassau in southern Rensselaer County, is contaminated with volatile organic compounds and other hazardous substances that have seeped out of the landfill and contaminated the ground water. In addition, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have also moved downstream, contaminating sediment and several species of fish in and near Nassau Lake. The EPA also announced that the construction of a new water treatment system for collecting and treating liquid seeping from the landfill and ground water is nearly complete and is expected to begin operations in January 2014.

Many volatile organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals and can cause cancer in people. PCBs are chemicals that persist in the environment and can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems and can cause cancer.

“Since the Dewey Loeffel site was added to the federal Superfund List in 2011, the EPA has taken action to protect people and the environment from exposure to an array of toxins,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The newly constructed water treatment plant will eliminate 6-8 truck trips per week to transport contaminated water through the surrounding community for disposal. The treatment system and the agreements announced today are important environmental accomplishments.”

One of two agreements announced today is between EPA, GE and the SI Group for an investigation and assessment of long-term cleanup options for the landfill and the ground water underlying it. The estimated value of this investigation is $1.5 million. Under a separate agreement, GE will investigate and assess long-term cleanup options for the ponds, streams and other water bodies that have been impacted by contamination from the site, including Nassau Lake. The cost for the first phase of this investigation is estimated between $500,000 and $1 million. Under both agreements, the companies will pay for the EPA’s costs in overseeing the work.

The treatment plant that is nearing completion replaces an old system that is pumping and collecting the contaminated liquid, called leachate, seeping from the landfill and contaminated ground water at the site. The liquid waste is then trucked away from the site for disposal. The new system will treat the liquid waste at the site. GE and SI Group are constructing the plant under a 2012 agreement with the EPA.
Between 1952 until 1968, an estimated 46,000 tons of industrial waste material generated by several Capital District companies was sent to the site. The waste included industrial solvents, waste oil, PCBs, scrap materials, sludge and solids. From 1980 until the site was added to the federal Superfund list in 2011, numerous investigations and cleanup actions were performed at the site by GE and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

In March 2011, the EPA began gathering landfill and ground water data. In fall 2011, the EPA began operating the ground water and leachate collection systems that had been installed by the state. In April 2012, the EPA reached an agreement with GE and SI Group for the companies to take over the operation of the collection system and construct a new plant capable of treating the contaminated ground water and leachate at the site, which will eliminate the need to truck it away. GE and SI Group took over the operation of the old system in August 2012 and began constructing the new system in May 2013. Between August 2012 and October 2013, more than 2.5 million gallons of extracted ground water and leachate have been collected and disposed of out of the area.

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 discharge limits set by the NYSDEC. GE and SI Group will continue to send the wastewater off-site by truck until the plant has shown that it can effectively treat the liquid waste. All work being performed by GE and the SI Group is being conducted under EPA oversight.

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 most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups.

The EPA has a webpage about the site at: http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/dewey

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