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All Cleanup Systems in Place and Working at Sag Harbor Superfund Site

Release Date: 03/26/2003
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(#03023) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that all systems needed to clean up the Rowe Industries Ground Water Contamination Superfund Site in Sag Harbor are up and running. The completion of construction is a milestone in EPA's efforts to address the contamination of soil and ground water at the site.

"We recently installed the last treatment system that we needed to complete the cleanup of this site," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "All cleanup systems are go at this site and so far we are pleased that they are working well."

The facility on the 8-acre Rowe Industries Ground Water Contamination site, located on the eastern side of the Sag Harbor Bridgehampton Turnpike, was built in 1953. It was operated by Rowe Industries Inc. followed by Aurora Plastics and then Nabisco until 1974. During that time, it manufactured small electric motors and transformers. Currently the site is owned by Sag Harbor Industries Inc.

Former workers reported that solvents were stored outside in a wooded area behind the facility, and ground water contamination was discovered in 1983. EPA took immediate action to provide safe water to residents by extending the public water supply to 25 affected homes. The site was added to EPA's National Priorities List of the most serious hazardous waste sites in July 1987, because the ground water and soil were contaminated with various chlorine-containing organic chemicals.

Initial cleanup plans consisted of excavation and disposal of contaminated soils and the contents of three dry wells located on the site, as well as pumping and treating the contaminated ground water. The plan was modified in 1997 to add further excavation in a former chemical-containing drum storage area and other soil and ground water contamination-removal systems. These systems include a soil vapor extraction (SVE) system to do subsurface soil cleanup, using a series of wells and vacuum pumps to draw volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the soil. These vapors are piped to carbon filter units, which absorb the contaminants. The SVE system will continue to operate until the soils are cleaned up. EPA estimates soil cleanup will be completed in approximately one year.

Several systems are needed to clean up ground water at the site. The main system, which extracts and treats the ground water, has been in operation since December 2002. Nine recovery wells pump the contaminated ground water to a treatment facility, where it is briefly contained in an equalization tank before being filtered for iron and other particulates. The water is then pumped to the top of a 49-foot stripper tower. VOCs are stripped from the water as it trickles down through the tower's packing. Once it reaches the bottom of the tower, all VOCs have been removed. The treated water is held in a transfer tank to be pumped to recharge basins located on the adjacent property owned by the Town of Southampton. The extracted vapors are pumped out of the top of the tower and sent through carbon filter units to remove VOCs before being released into the atmosphere. Computers monitor the system, and remote access and adjustments maximize system efficiency

EPA launched a system in February to enhance the ground water cleanup effort. Called air sparging, it employs wells to bubble air into saturated ground (below the water table), vaporizing VOCs. This process allows the VOCs to be captured by the SVE system for removal. EPA is also using four ground water extraction wells to pump water from the former drum storage area where samples indicated elevated levels of VOCs. This water is treated and discharged into a pond on the site.

To date, the treatment systems have removed over 690 pounds of VOCs from the contaminated soils and ground water.