Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Mohonk Road Industrial Plant site (Site) is located in High Falls, New York. From the early 1960s through the 1970s, industrial operations at the 14.5-acre area included metal finishing, wet spray painting and fixture manufacturing. All of these operations required the use of solvents. Facility operations contaminated soil and groundwater with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are contaminants that evaporate easily in the air. Following immediate actions to protect human health and the environment, EPA developed the Site’s long-term remedy. Long-term groundwater treatment is ongoing. Under current conditions at the Site, potential or actual human exposures are under control.


From the early 1960s to 1972, Varifab, Inc., a metal finisher, owned and occupied the site property. The company reportedly used solvents in the finishing and assembly of metal parts for card punch machines and computer frames. From 1972 to 1975, a wet spray painting company, R.C. Ballard Corp., operated at the Site. This type of painting operation would require large quantities of solvents in order to clean surfaces prior to painting. Daniel Gelles bought the Site property in 1976; Daniel E. Gelles Associates, Inc. manufactured store display fixtures, which may have involved the use of solvents. Wastes from these operations were typically discharged into a septic tank on the site property. Banco Popular de Puerto Rico foreclosed on the site property in 1992. Kithkin Corp. currently owns part of the Site. It leases portions of the on-site building to commercial tenants.

The Site first came to the attention of state and local authorities in April 1994, when a nearby resident contacted the Ulster County Health Department (UCHD) regarding the quality of her drinking water. UCHD sampled the resident's well in April 1994. The sample contained levels of VOCs above state and federal drinking water standards.

Following immediate actions to protect human health and the environment, as well as additional Site investigations, EPA placed the Site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in January 1999.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Immediate Actions: EPA has undertaken an interim groundwater action to minimize the migration of contaminated groundwater. EPA released its draft plan for this action in February 1999 and asked for public comment. The Site’s groundwater extraction and treatment system started operating in May 2000. In addition, EPA removed about 2,567 tons of contaminated soil and waste for off-site disposal. NYSDEC and EPA also provided and maintained granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration units in 75 homes and businesses. This ensured that homes and businesses had access to clean drinking water supplies.

Long-term Cleanup: Following Site investigations and a feasibility study that evaluated cleanup alternatives for the site, EPA selected the long-term remedy in the site’s March 2000 Record of Decision, or ROD. It included: (1) construction of a drinking water treatment plant and distribution system to serve the proposed water service area in High Falls; (2) extraction of groundwater on-site and off-property and treatment with air stripping and activated carbon; and (3) excavation and off-site disposal of about 500 cubic yards of contaminated soils.

In Fall 2007, EPA completed construction of the drinking water supply system for the affected community.  EPA disconnected the filtration units in homes and businesses with the switchover to the new drinking water system. EPA updated the Site’s groundwater remedy in September 2008 to include monitored natural attenuation in the far-field plume and continued extraction and treatment of groundwater in the near-field plume. Natural attenuation describes a variety of in-place processes that, under favorable conditions, act without human intervention to reduce the mass, toxicity, mobility, volume or concentration of contaminants in groundwater. The soil vapor extraction system was dismantled, because it was no longer effective is extracting and treatment soil vapors.

In 2011 and 2019, respectively, EPA transferred the operation, maintenace and monitoring (OM&M) of the two operable units (OUs) of the site to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). For OU-1, these include the O&M of both the treatment plant and the subslab depressurization systems on the main building. For OU-2, this includes the monitored natural attenuation of the groundwter plume, including the long-term areawide groundwater monitoring.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The Site is being addressed in two stages: immediate actions and a long-term remedial phase focused on cleanup of the entire Site.

In the Fall of 1999 and 2000, EPA excavated a total of approximately 2,567 tons of contaminated soil and waste for off-site disposal.

During 1999, EPA constructed the groundwater extraction and treatment plant on the Site property. The plant became operational in May 2000 and long-term groundwater treatment is ongoing. 

As stated above, NYSDEC now manages all aspects of the OM&M. EPA will continue to prepare five-year reviews on a regular basis.

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