Dump cleanup enters new phase with water releases

NASSAU – The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has completed its review of samples taken from the 48th tank of treated water from the Dewey Loeffel Landfill Superfund site in Nassau. After this tank was discharged on December 1, treated water from the plant will be released directly into the Valatie Kill.

The EPA oversaw the construction of a treatment plant designed to treat the contaminated groundwater and liquid that seeps out of the old industrial landfill, called leachate. The superfund site was used a dumping ground for local companies like GE and the former Bendix for 20 years in the 1950s and ’60s. After several years of trying to deal with the contaminated water, the EPA declared the area a Superfund toxic waste site in 2011 and came to a settlement with the GE and a company now called SI to do the cleanup.

The cleanup started with construction of a $2.5-million water treatment plant onsite, which began treating the leachate last March. After the water was treated it was moved into tanks, tested and then released into the Valatie Kill, which runs from southern Rensselaer County through northern Columbia County and empties into Kinderhook Creek.

A recent press release from the EPA said that “all tanks discharged have met the discharge requirements as set by the NYSDEC,” a reference to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The direct discharge means that the water will not be collected in tanks; it will released into the Valatie Kill from the plant after being treated.

The plant was intended to operate in this manner and the release said, “The comprehensive sampling program has demonstrated that the treatment plant is working successfully.”

In July, the EPA announced that a new treatment system (HiPOx) was being added to address the long-term treatment of the chemical 1,4-dioxane. A granulated activated carbon system in the plant has been treating 1,4-dioxane. “The carbon filter system will continue to treat 1,4-dioxane until the additional treatment system comes online and will remain in place after the new system is installed,” said the EPA.

Valatie Mayor Diane Argyle, who toured the plant in March when it opened, said she was concerned that the EPA started the direct discharge before finishing the new treatment system. “I would be more comfortable if they had the new plant,” she said. She also said that if the EPA is saying that new treatment system is needed, why not wait for that to be built before releasing the water.

The EPA stressed that the system at the plant now is treating the 1,4-dioxane, a hazardous industrial substance. “In addition, beginning on December 2, the water treatment plant will operate at a reduced flow rate of approximately 0.5 gallons per minute (gpm) until the new treatment unit for 1,4-dioxane is operating. It is estimated that the equivalent of less than one tank of treated water will be directly discharged during the 2-3 week delivery and installation period,” the agency’s press release states.

The water treatment plant is one step in a larger cleanup plan. In March, the EPA held an information meeting in Kinderhook about the plant and said that the larger clean-up of the waste at the site, which includes industrial solvents, waste oils, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), scrap materials, sludge and solids, would be another two to five years away and that more testing of the site was needed.

For more information about the site, www.epa.gov/r02earth/superfund/npl/dewey/.


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