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EPA Proposes Plan to Clean Up the Source of Ground Water Contamination at the Cortese Landfill Site in Sullivan County, NY

Release Date: 08/20/2010
Contact Information: Jim Fallon (212) 637-5034,

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a plan to clean up recently discovered areas of contaminated liquid under the landfill and near some contaminated lagoons at the Cortese Landfill Superfund site in Sullivan County, NY. The ground water beneath this closed landfill was contaminated over several decades by hazardous waste disposed of at the site and it continues to be affected by the two areas of contamination to be addressed by EPA’s proposed plan. EPA is taking public comment on its proposed cleanup plan until September 12, and will hold a public meeting on Monday, August 23 to discuss the details of the plan.

“EPA has already removed thousands of drums of hazardous waste from this site, and capped the landfill to prevent rainwater from carrying contamination from it into surrounding areas,” said Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “Now, we are planning the final stage of the cleanup, which will tackle the recently discovered source of the contamination at the site.”

According to EPA’s proposed plan, a series of technologies will be used to address contaminated liquid located primarily underneath the area of the landfill in which drums were disposed and a smaller drum-disposal area located south of the landfill adjacent to the lagoons. Among these is a technology called “air sparging,” which is the process of injecting air directly into the contaminated liquid and surrounding ground water. As the air bubbles rise, the volatilized contaminants are removed by physical contact with the air, and are carried up into the soil where they are collected using a vapor extraction system.

The Cortese Landfill, formerly known as the Tusten Landfill, received municipal waste from approximately July 1970 to July 1981. Disposal practices at the landfill were poorly documented and records regarding the types and volume of waste disposed of at the site are essentially nonexistent. For a six-month period in 1973, however, industrial waste was brought to the site in drums containing paint thinners, sludge, solvents, dyes, waste oil and petroleum products. There is evidence that drums were buried in and/or emptied into trenches and that tanker trucks emptied waste into a lagoon. Subsequent ground water monitoring revealed elevated concentrations of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds at the site.

Parties named as responsible for the contamination at the site have excavated lagoons and other areas of soil and removed more than 5,000 drums, three tractor trailer loads of hazardous sludge, and 50 dump trucks of contaminated soil from the landfill. They also have capped the landfill and performed a number of investigations in support of the remedy that is being proposed.

A public meeting will be held on August 23 at the Tusten Town Hall, 210 Bridge Street, Tusten, New York to elaborate further on the proposed cleanup plan and receive public input. Comments on the proposed plan can be presented at the public meeting or sent to Mark Granger, Region 2 Remedial Project Manager, at (212) 637-3351 or

Copies of the proposed plan and supporting documentation are available at the Tusten-Cochecton Library, 198 Bridge Street, Tusten, New York 12764. Copies are also available at

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