The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health (DOH) will hold a public meeting about the National Heatset property, East Farmingdale, on March 3, to present its plan to clean up the groundwater and subsurface soil at the hazardous site.
The DEC first started investigating the extent of contamination, at and how to clean up, Heatset in August, 1997, ten years after the property was allegedly polluted by operators of National Heatset Printing, a company that printed lithographic tri-color newspaper and periodical advertisements and lithographic printing plates. It is suspected that the company dumped cleaning chemicals into a storm drain at the site, a rental building, for about a year after declaring bankruptcy in 1987. The property is located at One Adams Boulevard, which lies in an industrial area off Route 110. It is south of Republic Airport and north of the Southern State Parkway within the Town of Babylon.
The DEC's investigation of the site, known as the Remedial Investigation (RI) and Feasibility Study (FS), was completed in January 1999. During the investigation, the DEC's consultant, Melville-based H2M, conducted testing of soil and groundwater at the site, and found high levels of Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs), particularly tetrachloroethylene (PCE), a common cleaning chemical, and related toxins.
The DEC will propose that the site be cleaned up using a density-driven convection (DDC) in-well stripping method, according to Jeffrey Dybar, project manager for the agency. Through the process, air is used to push contaminants through the groundwater. The groundwater is also sent through a carbon filtration system and is discharged at the water table. After the groundwater goes through the system, it will meet the New York State drinking water standard (5 parts per billion of the contaminants), noted Dybar.
"It's known as in-well stripping. In-well stripping is what we call an in-situ process. The groundwater isn't removed from the ground," he said. "Basically, the water is sucked in through the bottom of the well, it mixes with air as it rises through the well, and the air picks up the contaminants from the water, and the groundwater is then discharged at the water table in a cleaner state than it was cleaned up. And each water molecule circulates several times through the in-well stripping system."
According to a DEC fact sheet released about the site for the month of February, three systems would be installed: one at the on-site leaching pool behind the industrial building (source area), one at the downgradient edge of the site, and one downgradient of the site on Shleigel Boulevard. Because contaminated soil is in the saturated zone, this subsurface soil would be remediated as a result of the groundwater treatment.
The preferred remediation system would cost approximately $2.7 million. Other systems that had been considered are the Underdruck-Verdampfer-Brunnen (UVB) type in-well stripping, which would cost $4 million, and the extraction and treatment of the groundwater, which would cost $5.5 million.
According to Drybar, the DDC-type system was chosen because it is best suited to the types of contaminants at the site, is less costly, and has the briefest construction time.
The DEC is also urging residents and businesses who have private wells within a mile and a half south southeast of the site to have their water tested for contamination, if they have not already done so. This is because private wells generally retrieve water from about 50 feet underground, and the agency's investigations have revealed that a plume of contamination extends to 7,100 feet south south east downgradient of the site. As part of the DEC's Interim Remedial Measure, six homes and three businesses have already been given public water, and an additional six homes were connected to public water by the Town of Babylon at the request of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS).
There is another concern. The Suffolk County Water Authority Albany Avenue well field is located under part of the plume. The plume is at about 80 feet below the ground, while the drinking water is retrieved from wells at 419 to 509 feet below the ground. Although monthly monitoring of the wells has not detected the presence of any contamination, the DEC fact sheet stated, "Date collected during the RI indicates that the groundwater contaminant plume migrating from National Heatset site is sinking, and therefore may eventually contaminate the public drinking water well field." It added, "However, exposure to contaminants that may reach the Albany Avenue well field is not expected since these wells are monitored on a monthly basis and must meet NYSDOH health standards."
The DEC also noted that the potential for exposure to site-related contamination in soil has been significantly reduced because most of the polluted soil has been removed by excavation or is 13 or more feet below the ground's surface.
Prior to the DEC's involvement with the site, the Suffolk County Health Department and the property's landlord had cooperated on conducting cleanup actions there, such as excavation and an underground soil remediation system.
Local civic leader Emil Coppola is urging residents and members of the media to attend the March 3 meeting, because he said they must become educated about the effect of the contamination on groundwater. "It is very important that the community, through the newspapers, knows about this, because all our waters are being contaminated," he said.
At the meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. at the Farmingdale Library, representatives of the DEC and the DOH will be available to discuss the proposed cleanup plan and the work that has already taken place. The DEC will issue a final decision on the cleanup plan, known as the Record of Decision (ROD), following the close of an ongoing public comment period, which started on Feb. 12, and will last until March 14.
Dybar said the DEC plans to be able to issue the ROD sometime in April, and to have it operational 6 to 9 months later. The remediation would last for several years. "We expect the aquifer to be clean within 15 years," he said.
In accordance with State Superfund law, following the issuance of the ROD, the DEC will invite parties potentially responsible for the pollution (PRP), to pay for the cleanup. If the parties do not comply, the funds will be allocated from the State Superfund, and the DEC will then seek recovery of the money through litigation.
The proposed cleanup plan, known as the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP), along with the remedial investigation and feasibility studies, are available for public review, both at the Farmingdale Library and the DEC's Region 1 office at Stony Brook University.