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EPA Proposes Site In Ulster County Be Added To The Superfund National Priorities List

Release Date: 09/30/1998
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(#98137) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to add the Mohonk Road Industrial Plant site in High Falls, New York to the federal Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). Industrial activities on the property, which housed a metal assembly and finishing plant from the early 1960s until 1969, have contaminated more than 60 private wells in the area with volatile organic compounds. Between 1994 and 1995, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) provided carbon filter systems the homes and businesses where the contamination exceeded State drinking water standards.

The property housed a metal assembly and finishing plant from the early 1960s until 1969. Several businesses have conducted operations at the property since that time. This proposed addition to the NPL, along with two other sites in the state being proposed, brings the total number of federal Superfund sites in New York to 84.

The NPL is the federal list of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites. The Agency periodically proposes sites to the NPL and designates proposed sites as final. Proposed sites are investigated further to determine the extent of the risks they may pose to human health and the environment. Sites that are placed on the final NPL are eligible for long-term "remedial action" or cleanup financed under the Superfund Trust Fund.

With information from New York State, EPA has developed an early action that will help prevent the movement of the most contaminated groundwater off the site," said EPA Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox. "The NPL listing of the Mohonk Road site will guarantee a comprehensive and permanent solution and ensure the long term safety of drinking water in the area."

The following is a description of the site proposed to the NPL:

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 New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC) determined that it posed a significant threat to public health and the environment. Between June 1994 and October 1995, NYSDEC provided carbon filtration systems to 64 homes and businesses down gradient of the site where VOC levels exceeded the state drinking water standard.

Industrial activity at the site began when Varifab owned and operated the facility from the early 1960s until 1969. They 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. 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. EPA 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 EPA 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.

EPA is soliciting public comments on its proposed listing of the Mohonk Road site on the NPL. The 60-day public comment period started yesterday when the NPL update was published in the Federal Register. Members of the public interested in obtaining copies of the notice, an updated NPL list or site descriptions and commenting on the proposed addition, please contact the RCRA/Superfund Hotline at 1-800-424-9346 or 703-412-9810. Further information about the site and the Superfund program can also be obtained from EPA's homepage:

NOTE TO EDITORS: Reporters should contact Rich Cahill at (212) 637-3666 for the above information.

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: