New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its cleanup plan to address contaminated groundwater and soil at the Mattiace Petrochemical Co., Inc. Superfund site in Glen Cove, New York. The groundwater and soil are contaminated with volatile organic compounds as a result of previous operations at the site by a chemical distribution and drum-cleaning business. The plan amends a prior, long-term cleanup plan and is intended to improve the effectiveness of groundwater treatment at the site. The estimated cost of this phase of the cleanup is approximately $11.2 million. Groundwater from the Mattiace site flows away from the municipal drinking wells and does not pose a threat to drinking water. The public water supply is monitored regularly to ensure that the water quality meets federal and state drinking water standards.
Some volatile organic compounds can cause cancer. The extent and nature of potential health effects depend on many factors, including the contaminant levels and the length of exposure. The site is located next to a major redevelopment project which is planned to occur in Glen Cove and is near the Nassau County Garvies Point Preserve, an important natural habitat.
“The EPA’s work addresses the toxic plume in the groundwater at this site in Glen Cove,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Using a combination of cleanup methods, EPA will reduce the contaminants in the groundwater and soil until federal cleanup objectives are met.”
The EPA held a public meeting in Glen Cove on April 28, 2014 to explain its plan. The EPA accepted public comments for 30 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.
Mattiace Petrochemical Co., Inc. operated at the site from the 1960s until 1987 when it went bankrupt. When the facility was in operation, chemicals and stormwater were discharged into Glen Cove Creek. Soil on the site was contaminated and storage tanks and dozens of buried drums were found there. With the support of New York State, the site was added to the federal Superfund list in 1989.
Through the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the EPA addressed the immediate threats to the surrounding community as part of long-term cleanup plans. The EPA removed over 100,000 gallons of hazardous liquids and excavated and disposed of contaminated soil, drums and storage tanks. The EPA demolished and removed all structures on the site. Contaminated material was also removed from behind a collapsed retaining wall, and the wall, which runs along the former property boundary, was reinforced.
In addition, the EPA constructed systems to treat the groundwater and vapors from the soil. These systems were initially operated by the EPA and then by a group of parties legally responsible, which EPA identified and pursued to perform the work.
After 15 years of extensive monitoring and after studying many options, the EPA concluded that, while the actions taken have reduced contamination levels in the groundwater, the levels were no longer decreasing and additional measures are needed to complete the cleanup.
The new EPA plan that has been proposed requires using natural processes together with a technique called bioventing that moves air through the soil and groundwater to promote the natural breakdown of oily liquid waste and volatile organic compounds. A new system to vent the soil and groundwater and capture the vapors will be constructed on the site and on an adjacent property.
In some areas of the site, the EPA is requiring the use of non-hazardous additives to the groundwater to promote the breakdown of contaminants. The specific types of additives to be used will be determined by the EPA as part of the design of the cleanup.
In other areas of more highly contaminated soil and groundwater, heat will be used to treat polluted soil and groundwater. The thermal treatment involves applying heat underground that will destroy harmful chemicals in the soil and groundwater and also allow some of the contaminants to move through soil and groundwater toward wells where they will be collected and treated.
An underground wall will be installed at the boundaries of the property to keep contamination from moving to areas beyond the property. Trees, with root systems that will help to control groundwater levels and further absorb some of the contaminants, will be planted on the property.
The plan requires restrictions on how the site can be used in the future to ensure that activities at the site do not result in an unacceptable exposure to contaminants or interfere with the cleanup. For example, the EPA will prevent the future use of the groundwater as a source of drinking water until the groundwater is clean. Other measures include requiring systems to address potential indoor air contaminants as part of any future building constructed on the property. Disturbance of the containment wall would also be prohibited.
The EPA will continue to ensure the periodic collection and analysis of groundwater samples to verify that the level and extent of contaminants are declining. The EPA will continue to monitor vapors from the soil as well and 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. The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination at sites that are placed on the Superfund list, and it seeks to hold those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. The cleanup of the Mattiace Petrochemical Co., Inc. Superfund site is being performed and paid for by certain of those parties who have agreed to perform the work, with oversight by the EPA.
The Record of Decision detailing this remedy at the site is available at http://epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/mattiace