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EPA Adds Dewey Loeffel Landfill in Rensselaer County to Superfund List; Public Meeting Scheduled for March 24 in Nassau

Release Date: 03/08/2011
Contact Information: Larisa Romanowski, (518) 703-0101, romanowski.larisa@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it is adding the Dewey Loeffel Landfill in Rensselaer County, N.Y. to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites. The landfill is contaminated with toxic substances, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which have made their way into the ground water beneath the landfill and into nearby streams and tributaries that feed Nassau Lake. PCBs are potentially cancer-causing substances and can cause neurological and other serious health effects.

EPA will evaluate the effectiveness of the remediation conducted to date and risks posed by the contamination to determine what actions will be required to address threats posed by the contamination. The Agency will hold a public meeting on Thursday, March 24, 2011 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the St. Mary’s Church parish hall at 26 Church Street in Nassau, N.Y. to discuss the Dewey Loeffel site and the Superfund process.

“The addition of the Dewey Loeffel Landfill to the federal Superfund list allows EPA to address risks the landfill may pose to people’s health and to the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “Residents and local government officials have expressed their concerns, and EPA will do a thorough investigation to determine the best course of action to address the toxic contamination.”

The Dewey Loeffel Landfill, located in southern Rensselaer County approximately four miles northeast of the Village of Nassau, consists of an area where hazardous waste was dumped resulting in contamination of nearby streams and tributaries. EPA received more than 200 comments from members of the public on its 2010 proposal to add the Dewey Loeffel Landfill to the Superfund list.

The main contaminants found at the site include solvents, waste oil, PCBs, scrap materials, and sludge. Several species of fish have become contaminated with PCBs. The Valatie Kill and Nassau Lake are fisheries that have been closed and monitored by New York State since 1980 due to site-related PCB contamination.

From 1952 until 1968, the site was used for disposal of more than 46,000 tons of waste materials generated by several companies, including General Electric (GE), Bendix Corporation and Schenectady Chemicals. In 1968, the State of New York ordered the operator to stop discharges from the landfill and to perform cleanup work. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has overseen the investigation and cleanup at the Dewey Loeffel Landfill since 1980. That same year, GE agreed to further investigate and clean up the facility. From 1982 to 1984, approximately 500 drums and four 30,000-gallon oil storage tanks were removed from the landfill and a slurry wall, clay cap, and leachate collection system were installed. Since 1984, New York State has maintained the landfill and disposed of landfill waste at an off-site facility. Between 2001 and 2004, under NYSDEC oversight, GE removed 15,000 tons of PCB-contaminated soil and sediment from the facility. New York State has also established monitoring programs for residential wells, ground water, surface water, sediment and fish.

In October 2009, NYSDEC requested that EPA investigate the Dewey Loeffel Landfill. EPA collected sediment samples from various water bodies, which revealed the presence of PCBs. The New York State Department of Health has a health advisory in place for Nassau Lake, which advises people not to eat any fish from the lake because of PCB contamination.

EPA periodically proposes sites to the Superfund National Priorities List and, after responding to public comments, designates them as final Superfund sites. The Superfund final designation makes them eligible for funds to conduct long-term cleanups. EPA proposed the Dewey Loeffel site in October 2010 and a 60-day comment period followed, during which the public was welcomed to submit comments on the proposed listing. The site is now final on the Superfund list.

With all Superfund sites, EPA does an extensive search to identify and locate the parties potentially responsible for the contamination and make them pay for or perform the cleanup work. The majority of Superfund cleanups are performed by or paid for by polluters, not tax dollars. Superfund money is used for EPA oversight costs and when no responsible party can be identified.

For more information on the Dewey Loeffel Landfill Superfund site, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/dewey/. For a Google Earth aerial view of the Dewey Loeffel Landfill site: http://www.epa.gov/region2/kml/dewey_loeffel_landfill.kml. (Please note that you must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the map. To download Google Earth, visit http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html).

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