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EPA Finalizes Cleanup Plan for Ground Water Near the New Cassel Industrial Area in Nassau County, N.Y.; Cleanup Expected to Cost $22.9 Million

Release Date: 11/05/2013
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

      (New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to clean up a portion of contaminated ground water beneath the New Cassel/Hicksville Ground Water Contamination Superfund site in the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay in Nassau County, New York. Ground water at the site is contaminated with harmful volatile organic compounds, which are often found in paint, solvents, aerosol sprays, cleaners, disinfectants, automotive products and dry cleaning fluids. Repeated and direct exposure to volatile organic compounds can damage health.

      “Virtually everyone on Long Island relies on ground water as their source of drinking water, making it imperative that Long Island’s drinking water is protected from pollution,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “This cleanup will help protect people’s health and the drinking water supplies on which people and commerce depend.”

      Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, the EPA is dividing the investigation and cleanup into phases. The plan announced today is the first EPA phase of the cleanup and specifically addresses one portion of the site. The EPA held a public meeting in Westbury, New York on August 15, 2013 to explain its plan. The EPA received public comment for 60 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.

      The Magothy aquifer, Nassau County’s primary source of drinking water, has been contaminated by the volatile organic compounds. This contaminated drinking water has been treated since 1990 before it is provided to area residents. The water supply is monitored regularly to ensure that the water quality meets federal and state drinking water standards.

      Ground water testing by the EPA in 2010 confirmed the presence of elevated levels of volatile organic compounds in the ground water feeding 11 public water supply wells, six in Hicksville, four in Hempstead and one in Westbury. The site was added to the federal Superfund list of contaminated hazardous waste sites in 2011.

      The final cleanup plan for this portion of the cleanup includes construction of a plant to extract and treat ground water contaminated with volatile organic compounds above a specific level. If used to full capacity, the treatment plant would treat up to 500,000 gallons per day. In some areas, a vapor stripper would be used on individual wells to force air through contaminated ground water to remove the volatile organic compounds. The air in the stripper causes the chemicals to change from a liquid to a gas, which is then collected and cleaned. Depending on the results of a study, the most heavily contaminated ground water would be treated using a process such as chemical oxidation to break down the harmful contaminants in the ground water into water and by-products such as carbon dioxide. The oxidants would be pumped into the ground water at different depths in the contaminated area. Each injection would be followed by monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment, and the EPA will require periodic collection and analysis of ground water samples to verify that the levels and extent of contaminants are declining.

      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 legally responsible for the contamination and seeks to hold them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The EPA estimates the cost of this cleanup will be about $22.9 million. Consistent with EPA policy, the EPA will seek to engage those parties legally responsible for the contamination in implementing the cleanup at the site.

      To view the EPA’s Record of Decision for the New Cassel/Hicksville Ground Water Contamination Superfund site, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/newcassel/index.html

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