Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

LI TUNGSTEN CORP.
GLEN COVE, NY

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The LI Tungsten Superfund Site is located in the City of Glen Cove, Nassau County, New York. The Site consists of the former Li Tungsten facility property located at 63 Herbhill Road, certain portions of the nearby Captain’s Cove property that were contaminated with radioactive material, and other areas where radiologically contaminated materials associated with the former Li Tungsten facility came to be located, including portions of Glen Cove Creek. 

The former Li Tungsten facility is 26 acres and consists of three separate parcels. The 23-acre Captain’s Cove property is bounded by Hempstead Harbor to the west, Garvies Point Preserve to the north, the Glen Cove Anglers’ Club to the east, and Glen Cove Creek to the south. A four-acre wetland makes up a portion of the Captain’s Cove property’s southern boundary with the Creek.

The Wah Chang Smelting and Refining Company owned the former Li Tungsten facility from the 1940s to about 1984 and, during that period, a succession of entities, including Teledyne Inc. and the Li Tungsten Corp., operated the facility. Operations generally involved the processing of ore and scrap tungsten concentrates to metal tungsten powder and tungsten carbide powder, although other specialty metal products were also produced. Portions of the Captain’s Cove property were used as a dumpsite for a variety of wastes, including the disposal of spent ore residuals by the operators of the former Li Tungsten facility. The Glen Cove Development Corporation (GCDC) acquired the Li Tungsten facility property in 1984 and leased it to the Li Tungsten Corporation, which declared bankruptcy in 1985 and ceased operations.

Glen Cove Creek is a 1.0 mile federal navigation channel that is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.  It extends from Hempstead Harbor easterly to the head of navigation at Charles Street near the municipal center of Glen Cove. During routine maintenance dredging in 2001, the Corps discovered the presence of radioactive materials in Glen Cove Creek, which led to the indefinite suspension of the dredging program and the inclusion of the creek as part of the Li Tungsten Superfund Site.

 

From 1989 to 1990, EPA ordered and supervised a removal action conducted by the GCDC.  EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in October 1992 and performed a second removal action from 1996 to 1998 to address the contents of approximately 270 chemical storage tanks. As part of the second removal action, EPA razed two buildings that contained large numbers of tanks, due to their structural instability

EPA selected long-term remedial actions in its 1999 Record of Decision (ROD) for the site, including excavation and off-site disposal of ore residuals, soil and sediments contaminated with heavy metals and radionuclides. As part of the long-term remedial action, EPA and TDY (a potentially responsible party (PRP), under EPA's direction) have completed all required excavation work on the Li Tungsten property.

EPA continues to implement the long-term groundwater monitoring program as part of post-remedial activities.

The City of Glen Cove, which has undertaken an ambitious waterfront revitalization effort along Glen Cove Creek, received a Brownfields pilot grant from EPA in 1997 and the following year was designated a Brownfields Showcase Community by EPA, which resulted in additional financial and technical assistance from several federal agencies for the waterfront revitalization effort, including the Army Corps of Engineers. The City’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) has also purchased the Li Tungsten and Captain's Cove properties to facilitate the ongoing revitalization efforts.

 

 

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Emergency Actions: From 1989 to 1990, EPA ordered and supervised a removal action conducted by the GCDC. The most serious chemical/radiological hazards at the Site were identified and removed offsite for treatment and/or disposal. These materials included various radioactive substances, laboratory chemicals, PCB-contaminated waste, and elemental mercury from a spill. EPA performed a second removal action to address the contents of approximately 270 chemical storage tanks from 1996 to 1998. As part of the second removal action, EPA razed two buildings that contained large numbers of tanks, due to their structural instability.

Long-term Cleanup: EPA initiated a remedial investigation of the Li Tungsten property in 1993.

EPA also performed some interim remedial activities to improve site conditions, e.g., removal of debris and asbestos, collection/staging of ores and slag, stabilization of collapsing structures, etc. After determining that Captain’s Cove was used as a disposal area by the Li Tungsten operators, EPA initiated a focused feasibility study at Captain’s Cove. This work was performed in coordination with the State of New York's response under the State Superfund program in regard to other chemical contamination at Captain’s Cove, and completed in July 1999.

EPA selected long-term remedial actions in its 1999 ROD for the Site, including excavation and off-site disposal of ore residuals, soil and sediments contaminated with heavy metals and radionuclides. As part of the long-term remedial action, EPA and TDY have completed all required excavation work on the Li Tungsten property. The decontamination of the Dickson Warehouse was completed in Summer 2008. At Captain’s Cove, EPA completed the remedy by Fall 2005 through excavation and disposal of 120,000 tons of contaminated soil and ore residuals.

The Army Corps dredged Glen Cove Creek in 2000/2001 utilizing part of the Li Tungsten property to dewater dredged sediment. The discovery of radioactivity in some of the dredged sediment resulted in the indefinite suspension of the dredging program. In August 2001, EPA ordered some of the Li Tungsten PRPs to remediate the radioactive materials in the dredged sediments. The responding PRPs complied with this order and the remediation was completed in July 2002. After performing a focused feasibility study, EPA issued a ROD in March 2005 describing its selected remedy to address radioactive slag remaining in Glen Cove Creek. The remedial action commenced in October 2006 and was completed in Spring 2008.
 

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The remedy specified in the 1999 ROD required excavation and off-site disposal of soil primarily contaminated with radionuclides and heavy metals.  In addition, EPA selected a “no-action” remedy for groundwater which only required a long-term monitoring program to assess the recovery of the Upper Glacial Aquifer in the vicinity of the Li Tungsten facility. This monitoring was to be performed after the soil remedy was implemented. To achieve the remedial action objectives, soil cleanup levels of 24 milligrams/kilogram (mg/kg) for arsenic, 400 mg/kg for lead, and 5 picocuries per gram (pCi/g) for thorium-232 and radium-226 were established. The selected remedy also called for the removal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)-contaminated soil at Parcel B that exceeded 1 mg/kg in surface soil or 10 mg/kg at depths greater than two feet. The remedy selected in the 1999 ROD included institutional controls to restrict the future use of the former Li Tungsten facility property and portions of the Captain’s Cove property.  The remedial action reports and the preliminary close out report for the Site indicate that the construction of the remedial action for the Site has been completed, although institutional controls selected as part of the remedy have not yet been implemented.


During the implementation of the remedial actions pursuant to 1999 ROD at the Site, EPA determined that excavation of some arsenic-contaminated soil and, to a lesser extent, lead-contaminated soil along the western and eastern edge of Lower Parcel C and the southern portion of Parcel A was infeasible because of the existing utilities and infrastructure.

These areas with residual soil contamination, referred to as “red flag” areas, are present within the immediate area of the fence line on the Site property (e.g., along two storm drain systems as well as underground electric and natural gas services) and in close proximity to the bulkhead in place along the Glen Cove Creek. The “red flag” areas were identified as areas that would need institutional controls to ensure that future development would take residual contamination into account in managing excavations and soil in these areas. The contamination in these “red flag” areas was also found to be at depths below the top two feet, and, therefore, it was determined that receptors were unlikely to be exposed unless digging occurred in these areas.

However, recent sampling outside of the “red flag” areas by the proposed developer of the Site and by EPA indicated that some additional residual soil, specifically at Lower Parcel C and Parcel A of the Li Tungsten facility property, exceeded the 1999 ROD cleanup levels for arsenic and lead contamination. The sampling also identified petroleum-contaminated soil on Parcel A that is being addressed under the NYSDEC Spills program. The recent sampling investigation did not reveal any contamination in excess of the radiological cleanup levels.

Because of concern over cross-media impacts from contaminants of concern in soil/sediments to underlying groundwater, EPA and the NYSDEC recently developed additional Site-specific impact-to-groundwater (IGW) cleanup levels 175 mg/kg for arsenic and 660 mg/kg for lead, based on current soil sampling data, which, if achieved, EPA believes will be protective of groundwater. While the groundwater quality has continued to improve subsequent to the implementation of the soil remedy selected in the 1999 ROD, arsenic concentrations detected in groundwater at one area of the Site, beneath Lower Parcel C, still exceed the drinking water standard. EPA has determined that the strategy of removing additional contaminated soil above the arsenic and lead IGW soil cleanup levels will further improve the groundwater quality and potentially result in achieving the drinking water standard for arsenic. The City of Glen Cove’s plan to restrict the use of the Lower Parcel C property to commercial use and to provide and maintain a cover at the Site of either 2 feet of clean soil with an underlying demarcation layer or structures, such as buildings, pavement, and sidewalks, will further reduce the potential for human exposure to residual remaining contamination.

In May 2016, EPA issued a Proposed Plan to amend the 1999 ROD. The Proposed Plan’s  preferred remedy calls for additional excavation and off-site disposal of the previously unidentified contaminated soil at the former Li Tungsten facility property above levels that exceed the arsenic and lead IGW soil cleanup levels (with limited exceptions, e.g., for some pockets of contamination near an existing gas line, or below the water table). Under the Proposed Plan, institutional controls would be used to ensure that future Site uses/development activities take residual contamination into account. The public meeting on the Proposed Plan was held on June 13, 2016. The Amendment to the 1999 ROD was issued in September 2016.
 

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