FAIR LAWN — Investigators are still trying to find the source of groundwater contamination that has polluted a section of the borough and has forced drinking water to be filtered for the last 25 years, federal officials said this week.
The investigation will be among the topics discussed Thursday at a public meeting hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and representatives from the companies responsible for the pollution: Fisher Scientific Co., Sandvik Inc. and Eastman Kodak Co.
The meeting, the first in more than two years, will take place at the Fair Lawn Community Center at 10-10 20th St. from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The contamination is centered around the Westmoreland Well Field on the western side of the borough, where industrial solvents and chemicals including trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene and chloroform have been found in or near three of Fair Lawn’s water-supply wells. Those chemicals have been linked to liver, lung and kidney damage and nervous system damage at varying levels.
It has been a federal Superfund site for almost 30 years. About 200,000 gallons of drinking water are drawn from the well field each day and treated to remove toxic chemicals.
EPA officials said they are concentrating on finding a plume of highly-concentrated contaminants that they believe is feeding into the groundwater. They just don’t know where it is.
“We don’t have that piece of the puzzle yet,” said Michael Zeolla, the EPA remedial project manager for the site. Along with the investigation, the EPA will discuss results of vapor intrusion tests performed in homes and businesses around Eberlin Drive across Route 208 from the Fair Lawn Industrial Park, where Fisher Scientific, Sandvik and Kodak are located.
Investigators did not find elevated levels of those chemicals, which can vaporize and infiltrate basements, and they do not plan to test any more homes, Zeolla said. Wendy Dabney, the chairwoman of the Fair Lawn Environmental Commission, is asking for more vapor intrusion testing as the area around the industrial park is slated for redevelopment.
“The stance of the EPA is that unless residents and businesses within the Westmoreland Well Fieldarea ask for testing, they will not do it,” Dabney said. “My question is, how are they to be informed of the potential for vapor intrusion so they can request testing?”
If investigators figure out the source of the contamination, they would then be able to map out how polluted water moves under Fair Lawn and who may be in harm’s way.
“We need to isolate and find how the water is moving through the bedrock,” Zeolla said. “Once we have that completed, we’ll know I there is a need to continue sampling homes and commercial buildings.”
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