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EPA Places Hazardous Waste Site in Ulster County on the Final Superfund National Priorities List

Release Date: 01/19/1999
Contact Information: Rich Cahill (212) 637-3666 / cahill.richard@epa.gov

(#99010) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has placed the Mohonk Road Industrial Plant site in High Falls, New York on the final Superfund National Priorities List (NPL), the federal list of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites. Sites that are placed on the final NPL are eligible for long-term "remedial action" or cleanup financed by the Superfund Trust Fund. The Agency proposed the site for inclusion on the NPL last September.

Industrial activities on the Mohonk Road Industrial Plant site, which housed a metal assembly and finishing operation from the early 1960s until 1969, and several other industrial operations since that time, have contaminated more than 70 private drinking water wells in the area with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Since 1994, when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) discovered the problem, it has been providing carbon filter systems to clean the water from private wells supplying homes and businesses where the contamination exceeded state drinking water standards.

"EPA is taking a course of action that focuses on the most contaminated areas to prevent further contamination of the groundwater," said EPA Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox. "The final listing of the site on the National Priorities List will allow us to develop a more long-term approach to cleaning up the contamination that threatens this community's drinking water." The Agency periodically proposes sites to the NPL and designates proposed sites as final. The total number of federal Superfund sites in New York is now 85, including a site in Great Neck, Long Island that was proposed for the NPL today.

The following is a description of the site:

The Mohonk Road Industrial Plant site in High Falls, Ulster County, New York was discovered to be a potential source of chemical contamination in area groundwater by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) in 1994. Later that year, the NYSDEC determined that it posed a significant threat to public health and the environment. Since 1994, NYSDEC has been providing filter systems to cleanse the drinking water of affected homes and businesses as needed. The number of homes and businesses with these filters now totals 64.

Varifab, which owned and operated the facility from the early 1960s until 1969, reportedly used trichloroethylene (TCE ) in their processes of assembling and finishing metal parts for cash registers. Consolidated Diesel bought the company and property in 1969 and operated the facility until 1972. Another company, Ballards, performed "wet" spray painting of metal parts at the facility sometime between 1972 and 1975. Gelles Associates purchased the facility in 1976 and began manufacturing plastic and metal store display fixtures at the site. Gelles' coating process generated "waste lacquer" until 1991, when the company began using electrostatic powder coating.

NYSDEC investigated the sources of chemical contamination at the site in September and October 1996. The state also tested the sludge and water in a tank on the property in April 1997 and confirmed the presence of VOCs. The tank, its contents, and approximately 25 cubic yards of stained soil associated with it were removed by the state from the site beginning in September 1997. The state also confirmed that soil near the west side of the plant building was another source of contamination at the site.

The final listing for the Mohonk Road site was published in the Federal Register today. Members of the public interested in obtaining copies of the notice or an updated NPL site descriptions can contact the RCRA/Superfund Hotline at 1-800-424-9346 or 703-412-9810. Further information about the site and the Superfund program is available on EPA's homepage: www.epa.gov.superfund.

For more information contact:
Richard Cahill, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3666 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: cahill.richard@epamail.epa.gov