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EPA to Update Elmira Residents about Toxic Sampling

Release Date: 02/16/2010
Contact Information: Beth Totman (212) 637-3662, totman.elizabeth@epa.gov

(New York, NY – Feb. 16, 2010) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be in an Elmira, New York neighborhood near the Facet Enterprises Superfund site during the week of March 22, 2010 to conduct another round of investigations of toxic vapors that may be entering homes and buildings from contaminated ground water below the structures. EPA will be holding a public informational meeting on Wednesday, February 17 to provide residents living in the area with information about why EPA is sampling homes and buildings, how they can get their homes tested, and what can be done to address the problem. The Agency encourages residents to attend the session to meet EPA representatives and get their questions answered.

EPA has already sampled 130 homes for trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent and probable human carcinogen. TCE can produce emissions that rise through the soil and potentially affect indoor air quality, a phenomena known as vapor intrusion. EPA found elevated levels in some homes and has installed mitigation systems in 27 of them. The Agency will be holding the public information session at the Thomas Edison High School Auditorium, located at 2083 College Avenue in Elmira Heights, New York, from 4 pm to 7 pm, with a formal presentation at 6 pm. Staff will be available to answer questions on vapor intrusion and inform residents of the simple process of sampling.

“EPA is having a public information session to help area residents better understand how vapors from contaminated ground water may potentially be entering their homes, the process for sampling for them, and the systems that can be installed to address the problem, if found,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “The sampling process is straight-forward, and any problems identified can be addressed through easy-to-install basement vapor mitigation systems. I urge residents of the community to attend this informational meeting.”


Historically, Facet Enterprises manufactured various products such as bicycle parts, automobile engine components, and small arms for the military. Various types of waste were disposed of at the site including cyanide salts, heavy metal sludge, spent solvents, and various oils. EPA addressed the site by excavating contaminated soil and sediment and treating contaminated ground water.

    In recent years, the problem of vapor intrusion has become better understood and EPA, along with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), determined that it was likely that vapors from the TCE contamination might have reached the basements of some homes or buildings in the vicinity of Facet Enterprises. Contaminants from ground water and soil can move through the soil and seep through cracks in basements, foundations, sewer lines and other openings. Vapor intrusion is a concern because vapors can build up to a point at which the health of residents or workers in those buildings could be compromised.

    Sampling will take place west to east from Robinwood Avenue to Prescott Avenue, and north to south from West 18th Street to West 12th and East 9th Street. EPA is asking residents in these areas to give EPA’s experts access so that they can conduct sampling, a process that involves drilling a small hole in a basement floor or building slab and inserting a sampling device into the hole to obtain a sample of any soil gases present. If the results of this sampling indicate the need for further testing, EPA will return to conduct further indoor air sampling. Upon completion of all sampling activities, EPA will patch up the floor. Testing results will be shared with the residents of the homes.

    For more information on the Facet Enterprises Superfund site: www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/0201604c.pdf. For more detailed information on EPA’s vapor intrusion, go to: www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/vaporintrusion/.

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