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EPA to Hold Public Meeting on Plan for Final Phase of Cleanup At Diaz Chemical Superfund Site

Release Date: 08/13/2012
Contact Information: John Martin (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

(New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing 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 proposed plan calls for the use of 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 will hold a public meeting on September 5, 2012 at 7 p.m. at the American Legion, 5 Wright Street, Holley, NY to explain the proposed plan and to answer questions. Comments will be accepted until September 12, 2012.

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. The EPA then initiated an assessment of the affected neighborhood and sampled air, soil, interior surfaces and household items for contamination. In June 2003, Diaz Chemical filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the facility, leaving behind large volumes of chemicals in drums and tanks. The EPA began providing 24-hour security at the site and operating a ground water treatment system previously installed by Diaz Chemical. In addition, the EPA:

    • shipped approximately 8,600 drums and over 112,000 gallons of bulk waste from tanks and containment areas off-site for re-use or disposal
    • emptied, decontaminated and disposed of 105 reactor vessels and 34 tanks
    • dismantled and removed 51,280 linear feet of facility piping
    • recovered approximately 800 gallons of waste from within the pipes
    • removed and recycled 767 tons of structural steel, motors and scrap steel
    • removed and disposed of 5,750 tons of concrete, of which 500 tons were recycled
    • removed and disposed of 9 PCB-containing transformers
    • removed and disposed of 175 cubic yards of lead-contaminated wood and 20 cubic yards of asbestos debris
    • decontaminated a warehouse
    • dismantled all of the production buildings and tank containment areas, another warehouse and boiler room, electrical room, laboratory and an oil tank storage area.

The EPA added the Diaz Chemical site to the Superfund list of the most contaminated hazardous waste sites in 2004. In 2005, the EPA reached a decision, following a public comment period, to purchase eight vacated homes and provided the owners financial assistance to permanently relocate. The agency also provided assistance to two tenants in relocating to new rental properties. The proposed plan announced today calls for the sale or transfer of the properties.

The proposed plan calls for a method of treating 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 would then be collected and treated. For contaminated ground water outside of the six sources of contamination, the EPA is proposing to rely on natural processes that allow the contaminants to disperse, dilute and degrade to ground water cleanup levels.

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 proposed plan is $14.5 million.

Written comments may be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to:

John DiMartino
Remedial Project Manager
Central New York Remediation Section
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10007-1866
phone: (212) 637-4270
fax: (212) 637-3966
email: dimartino.john@epa.gov

For more information on the Diaz Chemical Corporation Superfund site and to view EPA’s Proposed Plan, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/diazchemical.

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