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EPA To Clean Up Cattaraugus County Site

Release Date: 11/21/2005
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For Release: Monday, November 21, 2005

(#05139) NEW YORK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently selected a cleanup plan for contaminated soil and groundwater at the Little Valley Superfund site in Little Valley, New York. Under the agency's plan, soil contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) will be excavated and disposed of off-site. The levels of TCE in the groundwater over much of the study area are currently being reduced as a result of natural processes, and EPA will continue to monitor the groundwater to ensure that contamination levels decrease over time.

In addition, a review of residential well sampling results since 1989 shows that the levels of contaminants are decreasing in all but a few of the drinking water wells. Residents are protected from exposure to the contaminated groundwater by using treatment systems that the agency installed on all of the affected drinking water wells. EPA expects contaminant levels in these wells to decrease to federal and state drinking water standards in about 10 years, and the agency will continue to use the treatment systems until the drinking water standards are met.

"We have a solid cleanup plan for this Superfund site that enables us to remove a source of groundwater contamination," said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. "We want to make sure that the groundwater quality improves with time."

The Little Valley Superfund site consists of an area of contaminated groundwater extending approximately eight miles along Route 353 from the Village of Little Valley to the northern edge of Salamanca. In the 1980s, the Cattaraugus County Health Department and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) sampled wells in the area and found that the groundwater was contaminated with TCE, a common industrial solvent. NYSDEC performed additional sampling in the early 1990's, but could not find the source of the contamination. EPA listed the site on the National Priorities List of the nation's most hazardous waste sites in June 1996.

In September 1996, after evaluating alternatives to provide a safe source of drinking water, EPA decided that it would install treatment units on all of the affected and potentially affected private wells to ensure that drinking water standards were met. In 1997, treatment systems were installed on 91 private wells. These systems consist of two carbon filters which remove TCE to below the federal and state drinking water standard of 5 milligrams per liter.

EPA also performed an extensive investigation in an attempt to identify the sources of the TCE contamination. While a number of former sources of TCE contamination were identified, only one current source, known as the Cattaraugus Cutlery Area, was found. EPA's cleanup plan targets this location for excavating contaminated soil.

For information about the Superfund program, please visit the EPA Web site at: