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EPA Encourages Public to Comment on Plan for Ground Water Cleanup Near New Cassel Industrial Area in Nassau County, N.Y.

Release Date: 07/26/2013
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

      (New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced its proposed plan to clean up an area of contaminated ground water within the New Cassel/Hicksville Ground Water Contamination Superfund site in the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay in Nassau County, New York. Ground water throughout these areas is contaminated with harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are often found in paint, solvents, aerosol sprays, cleaners, disinfectants, automotive products and dry cleaning fluids. Repeated and direct exposure to VOCs can cause serious health effects.

      The Magothy aquifer, Nassau County’s primary source of drinking water, has been contaminated by the VOCs. This contaminated water is currently being treated before it is provided to area residents. The water supply is monitored regularly to ensure the water quality meets federal and state drinking water standards.

      “Residents of Long Island rely on ground water as their source of drinking water, making it imperative that Long Island’s drinking water is protected from contamination,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Ensuring that people have a safe source of drinking water is a top EPA priority. The public is encouraged to comment on the proposed cleanup plan.”

      Because of the nature and complexity of the contamination at the site, the EPA is dividing the investigation and cleanup into phases. The plan announced today is the first EPA phase of the cleanup and specifically addresses one portion of the site. The EPA will hold a public meeting on August 15 at the Community Center, 141 Garden Street, Westbury, NY 11590 to explain the plan. Public comments will be received until on August 26, 2013.

      Ground water testing by the EPA in 2010 confirmed the presence of elevated levels of VOCs in ground water feeding 11 public water supply wells, six in Hicksville, four in Hempstead and one in Westbury. Based on past water quality monitoring results, public water supply companies installed treatment systems that remove VOCs from the contaminated ground water. The site was added to the federal Superfund list of contaminated hazardous waste sites in 2011.

      The proposed cleanup plan includes construction of a treatment plant to extract and treat ground water contaminated with VOCs above a specific level. If used to full capacity, the system will treat up to 500,000 gallons per day. In some areas, a vapor stripper that forces air through polluted ground water to remove harmful chemicals will be used on individual wells. The air causes the chemicals to change from a liquid to a gas, which is then collected and cleaned. In the most heavily contaminated areas, the ground water will be treated using a treatment process such as chemical oxidation, which uses chemicals to destroy pollution in ground water, breaking down the harmful chemicals into water and carbon dioxide. The oxidants are pumped into the ground water at different depths in the polluted area. Each injection is followed by monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment. Samples of the ground water will be collected and analyzed to ensure that the technology is fully effective.

      The EPA will require periodic collection and analysis of ground water samples to verify that the levels and extent of contaminants are declining. The EPA will conduct a review every five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.

      The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most contaminated waste sites, the EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination and seeks to hold them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The EPA will require that the cleanup be carried out and paid for by those responsible for the contamination at the site.

      In addition to the public meeting to explain the plan and receive comments, people may submit written comments by mail or email:

      Jennifer L. LaPoma
      Remedial Project Manager Western New York Remediation Section
      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
      290 Broadway, 20th Floor
      New York, New York 10007-1866
      (212) 637-4328
      lapoma.jennifer@epa.gov

      To review the plan for the New Cassel/Hicksville Ground Water Contamination Superfund site, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/newcassel/index.html

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