Chemical Levels Decline in Dewey Loeffel Water

Posted in: United States Water News, Water Contamination
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An agreement with 2 companies will let cleanup of the toxic Dewey Loeffel landfill site go forward, seen here on Wednesday April 11, 2012 in Nassau, NY. (Photo Credit: Philip Kamrass / Times Union )

Article courtesy of Brian Nearing | July 3, 2015 | timesunion | Shared as educational material

A recent spike in a carcinogenic chemical in treated water from the toxic Dewey Loeffel landfill sent into the Valatie Kill creek has subsided after a filter was replaced.

Last month, Nassau Supervisor David Fleming had raised concerns over increasing levels of a chemical called 1,4-dioxane, a solvent that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency labels as “likely” to cause cancer in humans, being released into the creek from an EPA treatment plant that handles toxic groundwater around the 16-acre unlined, PCB-tainted dump.

Since then, a filter at the treatment center was flushed and replaced, and dioxane levels have dropped significantly, according to weekly EPA testing reports. “EPA attributes the decrease in the concentration of 1,4-dioxane in the treated effluent to the carbon filter replacement,” said agency spokeswoman Larisa Romanowski.

Fleming said declining dioxane levels were welcomed, but added that EPA should have acted sooner “before we had all this dumping into the creek. We have requested a filter replacement schedule based on the data to prevent this from happening again,” he said.

About twice the scope of the infamous Love Canal toxic dump, Dewey Loeffel operated from 1952 to 1970, when it was closed by a court order.

Dioxane levels being discharged from Dewey Loeffel into the Valatie Kill roughly tripled starting in late February to 3 parts per 10 billion. By the beginning of June, levels jumped from 1 part per billion to nearly 7 parts per billion. Then a filter at the treatment plant was replaced, and dioxane readings dropped to about 0.25 parts per billion.

California, for example, has a notification standard of 1 part per billion of dioxane in drinking water supplies, while New Hampshire sets that standard at 25 parts per 10 billion. The latest discharges to the Valatie Kill were three times the California standard and more than 100 times the New Hampshire standard.

There are no federal safety standards for dioxane. The Valatie Kill is not used for drinking water, but it is a protected trout stream that flows into Kinderhook Lake in Columbia County, which then drains into Kinderhook Creek, a tributary of the Hudson River.

Last July, EPA announced that it was revamping its $2.5 million water treatment system at the landfill specifically to address dioxane, which was being captured by the system that was installed during the winter of 2013. The new equipment was added by early January.

The water treatment plant is part of a $10 million agreement reached in 2012 by the EPA with General Electric and Schenectady International, now SI Group, to clean toxic waste from the dump that has tainted water in Rensselaer and Columbia counties.

The Dewey Loeffel dump contains about 46,000 tons of PCBs, solvents and other toxic chemicals that were dumped by GE, SI Group, and Bendix Corp.

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