DEWEY LOEFFEL LANDFILL
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The Dewey Loeffel Landfill Superfund site is located in Rensselaer County, New York. In the 1950s and 1960s, site was used as a disposal facility for more than 46,000 tons of industrial hazardous wastes, including solvents, waste oils, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), scrap materials, sludges and solids.
The Dewey Loeffel Landfill Site includes the inactive hazardous waste disposal area, a/k/a the landfill, and all areas to which contamination has migrated including groundwater, soil, sediment and surface water bodies. The approximately 19-acre waste disposal area is located four miles northeast of the Village of Nassau, within a low-lying area between two wooded hills. Formerly, the site was used as a dump for hazardous waste generated by several companies including General Electric (GE), Bendix Corporation (now Honeywell) and Schenectady Chemicals (now SI Group). The waste materials were dumped into a lagoon area, oil pit and drum burial area.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has estimated that between 1952 and 1968 a total of 46,320 tons of waste materials were disposed at the landfill. The waste materials included industrial solvents, waste oils, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), scrap materials, sludges and solids.
In 1968, after years of citizen complaints, documented downstream fish and cattle kills, and uncontrolled fires at the site, the State of New York ordered the operator to stop discharges from the disposal facility and perform cleanup work. From 1980 until the site was added to the federal Superfund list in March 2011, numerous investigations and cleanup actions were performed at the site under the NYSDEC’s Superfund program. These activities included, but were not limited to, the installation of a clay cap and soil/bentonite clay slurry wall at the landfill, the removal of drums and storage tanks, the installation and operation of a bedrock groundwater recovery well system, monitoring and maintenance of residential well treatment systems, disposal off-site of extracted contaminated groundwater and leachate and removal of contaminated sediments.
Some hazardous substances, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and PCBs, have migrated from the facility to underlying aquifers and downstream surface water bodies, resulting in contamination of groundwater, surface water, sediments and several species of fish. There is currently a fish consumption advisory for Nassau Lake and several connected water bodies. Site investigations are underway to determine the nature and extent of the contamination and inform the development of permanent cleanup options for the site.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
In 2009, the EPA collected sediment samples from downstream water bodies. The analytical results indicated the continuing presence of PCBs. The State of New York referred the site to EPA and issued a letter of support for placing this site on the federal Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). In March 2011, the Dewey Loeffel Landfill was added to the NPL. Shortly thereafter, the EPA began gathering landfill and groundwater data as part of an Initial Supplemental Site Investigation (ISSI).
In 2012, the EPA reached an agreement to perform a removal action at the Dewey Loeffel Landfill Superfund site with two of the parties responsible for the contamination, GE and SI Group. A removal action is sometimes conducted to address immediate threats to the environment or to the people that live or work around a hazardous waste site.
The agreement with GE and SI Group required the construction and operation of a water treatment plant at the site, as well as the installation of five additional groundwater extraction wells along the western edge of the landfill. The water treatment plant has been constructed and operating since late 2013, and the five additional extraction wells were brought online in late 2015. The new extraction wells collect additional contaminated groundwater for treatment at the plant and are located closer to the landfill than the three pre-existing extraction wells. In 2014, a specialized treatment system was added to the treatment plant to further address 1,4-dioxane. Regular sampling of the treated water continues, and the results indicate that the plant continues to work effectively, and in compliance with discharge limits established by the State of New York.
The Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) is the first step in the long-term cleanup of a site. The primary objective of a RI/FS is to determine the nature and extent of contamination, identify potential threats, and evaluate options for cleaning up a site. In September 2013, EPA, GE and SI Group finalized an agreement which requires GE and SI Group to perform the RI/FS for the landfill and groundwater components of the site. In October 2013, the EPA and GE finalized an agreement which requires GE to perform the RI/FS for the drainageways (surface waters and sediments) component of the site. Together the two agreements will result in a comprehensive RI/FS for the site.
In September 2017, the EPA reached an agreement with GE to conduct a removal action to address polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated soil and sediment in Tributary T11A, which is a small stream located near the landfill that flows into the Valatie Kill. This action is being taken to address contaminated soil and sediment in Tributary T11A while the long-term comprehensive study of the site continues.
All work being performed by the responsible parties under the removal action agreement and the RI/FS agreements is being done under EPA oversight.
What Is the Current Site Status?
Two separate investigations are being conducted in parallel for the landfill/groundwater and the drainageways under the EPA’s oversight. The investigation of the “drainageways” includes the ponds, streams and other water bodies that have been impacted by the site, including Nassau Lake. The purpose of these investigations, referred to as Remedial Investigations/Feasibility Studies (RI/FSs), is to determine the nature and extent of contamination, assess the potential risks that the contamination poses to human health and the environment and evaluate potential cleanup alternatives. The RI/FS Work Plans for the landfill/groundwater investigation and for the first phase of the drainageways investigation were finalized in 2015. Since 2015, extensive sampling and field investigations have been underway including the collection of groundwater, soil, surface water and sediment data. The investigation of the two components of the site (landfill/groundwater and drainageways) are being conducted in parallel under the EPA’s oversight.
All of the information gathered from the investigations will be compiled and presented in two Remedial Investigation Reports (RI Reports) - one for the landfill/groundwater and one for the drainageways. An RI Report is an in-depth and comprehensive document that contains all of the data collected to define the nature and extent of contamination at a Superfund site. The data collected and analyzed during each RI will be used to develop a Feasibility Study (FS) Report, which will evaluate different cleanup alternatives to reduce potential exposure risks to human health and wildlife.
A removal action is underway to address polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated soil and sediment in Tributary T11A, which is a 1,900-foot stream located near the landfill that flows into the Valatie Kill. The sediment and adjacent bank soil of Tributary T11A contain elevated levels of PCBs which serve as an ongoing source of contamination to downstream areas, such as Nassau Lake. The removal action is being performed by GE under the EPA’s oversight and will consist of the excavation and off-site disposal of PCB-contaminated soil and sediment, followed by the placement of clean backfill and restoration of habitat in the tributary. Construction activities related to the removal action began in September 2018 and are scheduled to continue into 2019. This action is being taken to address contaminated soil and sediment in Tributary T11A while the long-term comprehensive study of the site continues.
The responsible parties continue to operate a water treatment plant at the site under EPA’s oversight. Regular sampling of the treated water continues and the results indicate that the plant continues to work effectively, and in compliance with discharge limits established by the State of New York. Sampling data is available on the EPA’s Dewey Loeffel Landfill Superfund site webpage. The treatment plant may be modified in the future based on the final cleanup plan chosen.