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EPA Proposes Williston, Vermont Site to Superfund List

Release Date: 09/23/04
Contact Information:

Contact: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

For Immediate Release: September 23, 2004; Release # 04-09–09

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed adding a property on Commerce Street in Williston, VT to the National Priorities List (NPL), commonly known as the Superfund list. The site, formerly leased by the Mitec Systems Corp., is known as the Commerce Street Plume and is located at an industrial park at 96 Commerce St.

The Superfund list is EPA’s list of the country’s hazardous waste sites that have been identified for possible long-term cleanup by the federal government. Superfund makes public funds available to clean up toxic waste sites when private financing is unavailable. The government can later recoup its costs from current and past owners of the property.

Today begins a 60-day public comment period where anyone can submit comments on whether the site should be finalized on the NPL.

The Commerce Street Plume is one of 14 sites proposed to the NPL today and the only one in New England. There are 99 sites on the NPL in New England, 11 of which are in Vermont, three sites that are proposed (including the Commerce Street Plume) and 10 sites across the region that have been deleted with cleanup complete. Across the nation, there are 1,244 sites on the NPL and 68 sites proposed.

Under its Land Revitalization Agenda announced last year, EPA made a commitment that revitalization and reuse will now be a formal part of planning at every site. Historically, on average, parties help responsible for the contamination agree to initiate or pay for 70 percent of the Superfund cleanups started each year.

For the second consecutive year, the Administration requested $150 million in additional funding above the fiscal year 2003 Superfund funding level to keep the momentum moving on cleaning up sites.

Commerce Street Plume background
The property, formerly leased by Mitec Systems Corp., one of the known plume contributors, occupies one acre although contamination has since migrated far beyond the site’s property lines. The property also includes a 6,000-square-foot building. Various manufacturing and electroplating operations occurred at the property since 1960. The two primary sources of contamination are an unlined lagoon and a leach field, which were both created to dispose of liquid waste. Plating rinse water and sludge wastes containing heavy metals and solvents were disposed of into the unlined lagoon and the leach field intermittently through 1984.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE) dichloroethylene (DCE) and metals including chromium, cadmium and nickel have been detected in soil and groundwater throughout the property. TCE and PCE have been detected in nearby drinking wells above health-based standards. In addition, elevated levels of contaminants linked to the property have migrated to nearby streams and wetlands via groundwater to surface water recharge.

From 1979 to 1986, Mitec leased the property for manufacturing of electronic and microwave components. Between 1979 and 1984, Mitec discharged an undetermined quantity of rinse waters and sludge wastes containing chromium, cadmium, cyanide, nickel and industrial solvents associated with electroplating operations into the unlined lagoon. After a Mitec employee expressed concern to the Vermont Agency of Environmental Conservation (AEC), the state found the company in violation of hazardous waste regulations for disposal of chromium contaminated wastes. In 1984, AEC filed suit against Mitec for alleged contamination and submitted an administrative order with a notice of violation, charging the company with illegal disposal of hazardous waste. Manufacturing operations on the property ceased in 1986.

Multiple rounds of groundwater, surface water, sediment and soil sampling were done on and near the site between 1984 and 2002. In 1999, groundwater samples taken by the state found TCE levels as high as 90,000 parts per billion downgradient from the former Mitec facility. In 2002, EPA detected elevated levels of 11 VOCs and 13 total metals in monitoring wells located throughout the industrial park and surrounding industrial area.

For more information about the new NPL sites and support documents for their selection, please visit the agency’s web site at

Related Information:
Commerce Street Plume Fact Sheet
Superfund in New England