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EPA Finalizes Cleanup Plan for Diaz Chemical Superfund Site; $12 Million Spent to Date

Release Date: 10/03/2012
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, 212-637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

      (New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a plan to clean up contaminated soil and ground water at the Diaz Chemical Corporation Superfund site in Holley, New York. The soil and ground water are contaminated with volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, which can cause serious damage to people’s health. The EPA’s cleanup plan uses a technology to treat six areas of soil and ground water that continue to cause contamination of ground water in a broader area.

      The EPA held a public meeting in Holley on September 5, 2012 to explain its proposed plan. The EPA took public comment for 30 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.

      Diaz Chemical Corporation purchased the site in 1974 and began manufacturing specialty chemicals for the agricultural, pharmaceutical, photographic, color and dye and personal care products industries at the site. In January 2002, a safety valve at the facility ruptured, causing a release of a chemical mixture into the neighboring residential area. Area residents experienced sore throats, headaches, eye irritation, nosebleeds and skin rashes and some residents voluntarily relocated to temporary housing with assistance from Diaz Chemical. In May 2002, after Diaz Chemical said that it could not continue to pay the costs of housing residents who remained relocated after the incident, the EPA assumed responsibility for the housing expenses. In June 2003, Diaz Chemical filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the facility, leaving behind large volumes of chemicals in drums and tanks. The EPA added the Diaz Chemical site to the Superfund list of the most contaminated hazardous waste sites in 2004. In March 2005, the EPA reached a decision to purchase eight vacated homes and provided the owners financial assistance to permanently relocate. For a history of the cleanup, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/diazchemical/.
      The EPA will treat the soil and ground water in six areas using electrodes that will heat the soil and ground water, causing the contaminants to evaporate and turn into vapor and steam. The vapor and steam will then be collected and treated. For contaminated ground water outside of the six sources of contamination, the EPA will rely on natural processes that allow the contaminants to disperse, dilute and degrade the ground water to meet federal cleanup levels. The plan also calls for the sale or transfer of the eight properties EPA purchased in 2005.
      Superfund is the federal cleanup program established by Congress in 1980 to investigate and clean up the country’s hazardous waste sites. The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs on to taxpayers. Cleanups are only funded by taxpayer dollars when those responsible for the contamination cannot be found or are not financially viable. In this instance, the EPA has spent approximately $12 million to-date to clean up the Diaz Chemical site. The estimated total cost of the EPA’s plan is $14.5 million.

      To review the plan for the Diaz Chemical Superfund site, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/diazchemical/.

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