VALATIE—Tap water samples collected this fall by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 61 residences near the state Route 203 Superfund site in the Town of Nassau have found a dozen wells with some detectable levels of chemical pollutants and one with contamination of well water above acceptable levels. The other 48 wells tested showed no signs of contamination.
The Route 203 site is located near the intersection of Route 203 and Sweets Crossing Road in Nassau in Rensselaer County, not far from the Dewey Loeffel Superfund site, which is also in Nassau. The Route 203 Site is a short distance north of the Columbia County border and near the Valatie Kill.
Dewey Loeffel Landfill was a dumping ground for toxic waste for companies including General Electric for many years in the 1950s and ’60s. The state eventually stepped in to start the clean-up, and in 2011 the EPA declared the landfill a federal Superfund Site. A settlement was agreed on with the companies to build the $2.5 million water treatment plant on the site. Treated water has been released in the nearby Valatie Kill and Little Thunder Brook since early 2014. Information on the treated water and the plant is at https://cumulis.epa.gov
In July 2018, the EPA learned from the state DEC that the Route 203 property may have been used historically for waste oil handling and disposal activities. The EPA assessed the Route 203 property and collected soil, pond sediment, pond water and groundwater samples in late 2018. Results of this sampling showed elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are suspected carcinogens and pose other health threats, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in soil and pond sediment.
During the assessment, the EPA also identified several 55-gallon drums and an underground storage tank containing residual waste material.
The EPA and GE signed a legal agreement in March 2020, which required GE to further investigate the contamination on the site. GE was required to sample the soil and sediment and install and sample on-site groundwater wells. In addition GE agreed to conduct further tests on the drums and underground storage tank.
Under EPA oversight, GE investigated the site from May until November 2020. The investigations revealed a total of 14 drums and two underground storage tanks containing water and waste oil. GE’s report summarizing the investigation results was finalized in July 2021.
Samples from the town of Nassau taken last October show one well with levels of contaminants above drinking water standards. The EPA also sampled to evaluate if there has been any change in conditions since the agency collected samples in March 2019 and to expand the sampling area to the south and southwest.
EPA had previously sampled 26 groundwater wells near the site. Samples were analyzed for PCBs, VOCs and semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs).
Most of the residences sampled in October 2021 had no detectable contaminants in their tap water. Trichloroethylene (TCE) was detected in the well at the Route 203 site and at 12 residences located to the south of the site. Of these 13 wells, one south of the site showed TCE levels exceeding the federal and state drinking water standards. TCE is used mostly in industrial and commercial processes and can negatively affect human health.
The EPA is now providing an alternate source of water to the residence with contaminated groundwater and is arranging for the installation of a treatment system at the residence. Contaminants were not detected at the remaining 48 residences, including all of those to the west of the Route 203 site and west of the Valatie Kill.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email