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EPA Proposes to Add Dewey Loeffel Landfill to Federal Superfund List; Major PCB Problem Continues to Affect Rensselaer County Communities

Release Date: 03/02/2010
Contact Information: Kristen Skopeck (518) 747-4389, skopeck.kristen@epa.gov

(New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it is proposing to add the Dewey Loeffel Landfill in Rensselaer County, NY, to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites. The landfill is contaminated with hazardous substances, including potentially cancer-causing PCBs. Building on the cleanup work that has already been done by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), EPA will conduct an evaluation of the contamination and develop a plan to clean it up. The Dewey Loeffel Landfill site, located in southern Rensselaer County approximately four miles northeast of the Village of Nassau, consists of an area where hazardous waste was dumped in the past and nearby water bodies that have also become contaminated by pollutants that have migrated from the site. EPA is inviting the public to comment on the proposed addition of the landfill to the Superfund list.

“EPA will do everything we can to make sure that the Dewey Loeffel Landfill gets cleaned up and that the companies that created this looming problem pay for the cleanup,” said Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “The work already done at the site has definitely helped, but we think there is more to be done, and the Superfund designation will allow us to do just that.”

The main contaminants of concern that have been found at the site include solvents, waste oils, potentially cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), scrap materials, sludge, and solids. Some hazardous substances, in particular PCBs, have migrated from the site to underlying aquifers, streams, and waterbodies. Several species of fish have become contaminated with PCBs. The Valatie Kill and Nassau Lake are fisheries that have been closed and monitored since 1980 due to site-related PCB contamination, and there are 1.7 miles of wetlands located within the area that have been contaminated as a result of Dewey Loeffel Landfill.

From 1952 until 1968, the site was used for disposal of more than 46,000 tons of waste materials generated by several industries, including General Electric (GE), Bendix Corporation, and Schenectady Chemicals. The waste materials were dumped into a lagoon area, oil pit, and drum burial area. In 1968, the State of New York ordered the operator to stop discharges from the disposal facility and perform cleanup work. Over several years, the operator covered and graded the lagoon area, the oil pit and the drum disposal area, and constructed drainage channels to control surface water runoff.

NYSDEC has overseen the investigation and cleanup actions at the Dewey Loeffel Landfill since 1980. That same year, GE entered into an agreement with NYSDEC to perform additional investigations and cleanup work at the facility. During a two-year time span beginning in 1982, GE removed approximately 500 drums and four 30,000-gallon oil storage tanks. As part of the 1980 agreement, GE paid the NYSDEC $2.33 million to conduct remedial construction, monitoring and maintenance of the site. From September 1983 to November 1984, NYSDEC built a slurry wall, clay cap and leachate collection system. Since that time, the state has been maintaining the landfill and disposing of landfill leachate at an off-site permitted facility. Starting in 1992, Remedial Investigations and Feasibility Studies were conducted by GE under NYSDEC oversight. Records of Decision selecting cleanup options for the ground water and surface water drainage pathways were completed by NYSDEC in 2001 and 2002. Interim Remedial Measures were conducted during this period as well, including the installation of residential well treatment systems to address site-related volatile organic compounds. Between 2001 and 2004, under NYSDEC oversight, GE removed approximately 15,000 tons of PCB-contaminated soil and sediments from the drainage-way between the facility and Nassau Lake. In 2008, the NYSDEC completed an off-site ground water collection system consisting of three bedrock extraction wells and a containment system. In 2009, GE completed construction on the replacement of Nassau Lake dam. The state has also established monitoring programs for residential wells, ground water, surface water, suspended sediment, and fish.

NYSDEC referred this site to EPA in October 2009. EPA then collected sediment samples from downstream water bodies, including Mead Road Pond, Tributary T11A, Valatie Kill, Valley Stream, Nassau Lake, and Smith Pond. Sampling results revealed the continuing presence of low levels of PCBs. The New York State Department of Health currently has a Health Advisory in place for Nassau Lake which advises people not to eat fish from Nassau Lake because of PCB contamination.

With the proposal of this site to the Superfund list, a 60-day comment period will begin during which EPA is soliciting public input regarding this action. For instructions about submitting comments, go to: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/pubcom.htm or contact Ildefonso Acosta, Region 2 NPL Coordinator at (212) 637-4344 or acosta.ildefonso@epa.gov.

For more information on the NPL Site listing process, visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/npl_hrs.htm. 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). Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

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