KINDERHOOK–Treated water from the Dewey Loeffel Superfund Site continues to be released into the Valatie Kill, which runs through northern Columbia County and empties into Kinderhook Lake. But a report issued earlier this summer by the Columbia County Environmental Management Council said test results did not find hazardous chemicals from the site in local waterways.
In 2014 the Columbia County Board of Supervisors asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency to collect water samples from Kinderhook Lake. The board also asked the county’s Environmental Management Council to meet with the EPA to review the samples.
In a report given to Board of Supervisors Chairman Pat Grattan (R-Kinderhook) in June of this year, the Environmental Management Council (EMC) Chairman Ed Simonsen wrote that his task force reviewed the testing and toured the treatment plant at the Dewey Loeffel site near the Village of Nassau in southern Rensselaer County.
The report says that “all available data was carefully scrutinized to identify and quantify the presence of contaminants. In all cases the results were non-detect or substantially below previously determined maximum permissible levels in accordance with [state] standards.”
And while the EMC report goes on to caution, “Please note, however, that the sites sampled were very few in number,” it says that “based on this review we concluded that there was no apparent evidence of the presence of contaminants connected with the Dewey Loeffel Super Fund site in any water or sediment samples collected in Columbia County.”
The EMC report also stresses that the county must continue monitoring the cleanup at the Superfund site. “As you are aware, the treatment plant is an interim step designed to prevent the chemical plume from the Dewey Loeffel site from spreading any further. The plan for ‘complete’ site cleanup and remediation is being developed by EPA, and the entire Superfund cleanup process will take several more years,” the county report says.
Dewey Loeffel was a dumping ground for toxic industrial waste from companies like GE from 1952 to 1968, when the state ordered the site closed. But by then some of the thousands of tons of toxic waste had seeped into local waterways and reached Nassau Lake. The state stepped in to start the cleanup, and in 2011 the EPA declared the landfill a federal Superfund Site. A settlement was reached with GE and SI, the successor company to one of the other firms responsible for the original pollution. The agreement led to construction of the $2.5-million water treatment plant on the site. Treated water has been released in the Valatie Kill since early 2014.
The EPA continues to oversee operations at the plant and to test the water. The agency posts test findings online at www.epa.gov/r02earth/superfund/npl/dewey/.
The data from the sampling conducted on August 12 is now available.
A press release from the EPA says that between July 22 and July 29, the concentration of 1,4-dioxane increased from 0.57 parts per billion to 1.3 parts per billion. The EPA classifies the chemical as a “probable human carcinogen.” Based on the data, the EPA has attributed this most recent increase to the treatment plant’s carbon filter unit. To ensure that the plant continues to operate at maximum effectiveness, both carbon filter units in the plant were replaced.
The EPA said in another press release that the first carbon filter unit (known as the lead) was replaced August 20. On August 21, the second carbon filter unit (known as the lag) was taken out of service and replaced August 27. The EPA now says the replacement filtering unit “working effectively.”
The EPA also announced that additional construction of new groundwater extraction wells also continues. The second of five new extraction wells was brought online on earlier this month. The new extraction wells will collect additional contaminated groundwater and are located closer to the landfill than the three existing extraction wells.
The work continues to clean the water, but cleanup of the site will take many more years.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .