EPA Reports on water, sediment in Kinderhook Lake

KINDERHOOK–In response to requests from the public made during a meeting about the Dewey Loeffel Superfund site in March 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tested samples of surface water and sediment derived from 10 sites on May 19 and May 20, 2014 and has just issued its report of the results.

The Dewey Loeffel Superfund site is located near the Town of Nassau in Rensselaer County. In the early 1950s to the late 1960s, the site was a dumping ground for 46,000 tons of toxic waste, including industrial solvents, waste oils, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), scrap materials, sludge and solids. After being declared a federal Superfund Site in 2011, a water treatment plant was built by some of the companies responsible for dumping and overseen by the EPA. Treated water from the plant has been released in the Valatie Kill, which flows in Kinderhook Lake, since last year. Treated water at the plant is tested.

Residents at the meeting in 2014, where representatives from the EPA explained the plan to release the water from the Dewey Loeffel treatment plant into the Valatie Kill, requested testing be done on Kinderhook Lake so they would have a baseline before more treated water is discharged.

Two of the sampling sites were in Kinderhook Lake (one, off West Shore Drive and, the other, off East Shore Drive). A third sample was taken in the Valatie Kill just upstream from its entry into the Lake.

While the report concluded that contamination from the Dewey Loeffel site does not appear to have affected the lake, it did identify the presence of several contaminants, although at concentrations below the levels considered harmful to humans or fish.

Some PCB concentrations were found in the sediment of the Valatie Kill, though not in the samples taken from the lake. The highest concentration was 49 ug/kg (micrograms per kilogram of sediment), whereas levels up to 100 ug/kg are considered acceptable for human activity without any restrictions.

In one of the lake samples, pesticides (DDD, DDE and DDT) were found, likely as the result of past and present agricultural uses in the vicinity, again at levels not considered a risk. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) were found in both lake site samples, at acceptable levels. The PAHs are likely to be due to recreational activities like boating.

The EPA will continue to sample surface waters and sediment. In addition, Ed Simonsen, chair of the county’s Environmental Management Council, has formed a task force to monitor the discharges from Dewey Loeffel treatment facility and the water and sediment quality in Kinderhook Lake and the Valatie Kill.

Representatives of the Villages of Valatie and Chatham and the Towns of Kinderhook and Stuyvesant, the Department of Health, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Kinderhook Lake Corporation and Roxbury Farm all participate on the task force.

The EPA’s report is available at www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/dewey/docs.html. The standards applicable to sediment can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/regs/15507.html. Those applicable to surface water quality can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/regs/4590.html.

 

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