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EPA Finalizes Cleanup Plan for Shenandoah Road Superfund Site in East Fishkill, New York

Release Date: 10/16/2012
Contact Information: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to clean up contaminated ground water at the Shenandoah Road Ground Water Contamination Superfund site in East Fishkill, New York. Past industrial activities contaminated the ground water with tetrachloroethene, commonly known as PCE, which is a volatile organic compound that can have serious health effects. The cleanup plan calls for the continued operation of a system that extracts and treats ground water coupled with natural processes to reduce the contaminants in the ground water. The ground water will continue to be periodically sampled to measure the effectiveness of both the ground water extraction and treatment system, and the natural processes. Land and ground water use restrictions will also be required. The EPA held a public meeting on September 12, 2012 to explain its plan and considered public input before finalizing it.

      Between 1965 and 1975, Jack Manne, Inc. rented a property at 7 East Hook Cross Road in East Fishkill and operated a facility there to clean and repair computer chip racks supplied to it under a contract with International Business Machines Corp. As part of this process, solvents, including PCE, were disposed of in a septic tank and an in-ground pit located at the property.

      In 2000, well sampling conducted by the New York State Department of Health indicated that residential wells in the vicinity of the facility were contaminated with PCE above the federal and state maximum contaminant levels. Following this discovery, the EPA initiated an emergency response at the site and began the delivery of bottled water to affected residences. The EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation determined that the source of the PCE contamination in these nearby residential wells was the facility.
      The Shenandoah Road site was placed on EPA's Superfund list of the nation's most hazardous waste sites in 2001, and EPA notified IBM and Jack Manne of their status as parties responsible for the cleanup. Later that year, IBM entered into an agreement with the EPA to complete soil cleanup work already begun at the site by the EPA, as well as perform other work to address the contamination.

      Since 2004, the EPA has performed annual investigations to assess the presence of potentially harmful vapors in homes at the site, and as a preventative measure, has installed systems at four homes to keep such potentially harmful vapors from entering the buildings. This was a precaution since periodic indoor air testing at these buildings since 2004 have shown that exposure to vapors is not currently occurring. Under the cleanup plan, these systems will be maintained, as will the annual vapor investigations.

      With EPA oversight, IBM completed the removal of the sources of ground water contamination at the facility. Under the same order, IBM proposed to study alternative water supplies. In early November 2003, the EPA presented the public with the alternatives for providing a permanent water supply, and the EPA subsequently selected a connection to the Fishkill municipal water supply. In March 2009, the public water supply system was completed and began to supply drinking water to the Shenandoah Road community. In September 2002, IBM had entered into a second agreement with the EPA to perform a study of the nature and extent of contamination that remained at the site as well as cleanup alternatives.

      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 cleanup of the Shenandoah Road site is expected to be performed by IBM with oversight by the EPA. The estimated cost of the cleanup is $2.7 million.