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EPA and DEP to Take No Further Cleanup Actions at Superfund Site in Wolcott, CT
Release Date: 10/07/04
Contact: Jim Murphy, EPA Community Relations (617-918-1028)
For Immediate Release: Oct. 7, 2004; Release # 04-10-09
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with concurrence from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), today announced it has reached a final decision marking the completion of cleanup activities at the Nutmeg Valley Road Superfund site in Wolcott, CT.
EPA announced the chosen plan in a document called the Record of Decision (ROD). The ROD specified no further action at the site based on the determination that existing state and local regulations are adequate and will provide a sufficient mechanism to ensure that human exposure to contaminated groundwater is unlikely.
Prior to issuing its decision, EPA solicited public comment during July and August 2004 on its proposal that no further action is needed at this site. The decision was based on the following factors:
- State public health code and a local town ordinance preclude the use of groundwater that may pose an unacceptable threat to human health if it is consumed or used for bathing or showering.
- The groundwater in the study area has been determined by DEP to be of low use and value.
- Soil, sediment and surface water do not pose unacceptable threats to human health.
- Ecological risk found in the soil, sediment and surface water is due to upstream influences and/or activity that is not attributed to the Superfund site.
A copy of the Record of Decision and other documents regarding the site is available for public review at the Wolcott Public Library, 469 Bound Line Road in Wolcott, the EPA Records Center in Boston, as well as on the EPA website at www.epa.gov/ne/superfund/sites/nutmeg .
EPA made the determination that no further action under federal law (CERCLA) is required at the Nutmeg Valley Road Superfund site. The levels of organic compounds and metals detected in the soil, sediment and surface water do not appear to pose an unacceptable risk to human health. EPA did identify a potential non-carcinogenic health hazard from the future use of groundwater as a supply for drinking water. However, EPA believes that the existing Connecticut Public Health Code (Section 19-12-B51m), which prevents private wells in the future from being located on parcels that are within 200 feet of a public water supply, and newly-enacted Town of Wolcott Groundwater Ordinance #87, which prohibits the use of groundwater in an Institutional Control Zone (ICZ), which includes all parcels on site where groundwater is contaminated, when considered together will provide a sufficient safeguard to ensure that human exposure to contaminated groundwater is prevented in the future.
Furthermore, with passage of the groundwater ordinance, DEP revised the rating of the groundwater in the ICZ to “low use and value.” Because the state and EPA both agree that this portion of the drinking water aquifer has “low use and value,” EPA no longer considers drinking water standards to be appropriate for determining cleanup goals for this site. EPA intends to conduct periodic reviews of state and local regulations to ensure that human health remains protected.
With respect to the environment, EPA found that ecological risks in the study area were the same as, or less than, ecological risks found in upstream locations. This indicates that the contamination is due to upstream influences and/or activity that is not attributed to the Superfund site.
Industrial use of the area began in the late 1940's. Historical information indicates that years of on-site disposal, spills and leaks of chemical waste, including solvents, paints, cyanide, heavy metals and oil at industrial and commercial properties, has occurred. Aerial photographs show historical surface impoundments, stained surface soils and scrap metal debris.
In 1979, several private drinking water wells were found to be contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In response to this discovery, and a hazardous waste inventory conducted by CT DEP, state and local officials conducted an investigation into the nature, extent and probable sources of groundwater contamination in Wolcott and surrounding areas. EPA conducted additional investigations to support the site’s placement on the National Priorities List (NPL) in March 1989. Metal-working and machine shops on Nutmeg Valley Road with a known history of dumping waste oil and solvents onto the ground (Nutmeg Screw and Waterbury Heat Treating) were the focus of early investigations. EPA later expanded the study area to 155 acres to include similar shops on Swiss Lane, Tosun Road, Wolcott Road, and Town Line Road that were also seen as potential sources of groundwater contamination.
In 1992, EPA conducted an emergency removal at the PAR Finishing facility on Tosun Road. About 1,150 tons of sludge waste and contaminated soil was removed from two unlined lagoons and shipped to a disposal facility in Michigan. This action addressed the threats posed by the electroplating wastes in surface soils, and removed a potential source of groundwater contamination.
In 1995 and 1998, the USGS performed regional groundwater studies in the expanded 155-acre study area. In comparing the findings of the two studies, the USGS concluded that: a) although VOCs, metals and cyanide were found in the groundwater, the distribution was scattered and there was no evidence of a wide-spread plume of contamination; and b) the levels of contaminants in much of the study area were decreasing over time through natural degradation processes. In 1999, using data collected by the USGS, EPA screened the area for human-health and ecological risk. EPA concluded that additional samples were needed to properly assess risk and that the focus could be limited to the area of interest for the NPL listing in 1989. The study area was reduced to its current 28-acre configuration. From 2000 to 2002, EPA collected samples from groundwater, soil, surface water and the sediment in streams and wetlands, and performed human-health and ecological risk assessments. The overburden aquifer was found to contain high levels of manganese, a potential non-carcinogenic health hazard.
In April 2004, the Town of Wolcott adopted an ordinance that established the 25-acre ICZ. In June 2004, DEP made the determination that the contaminated aquifer in the ICZ is “low use and value.” In July 2004, EPA proposed the no-further-action remedy.
EPA has not issued notice letters to any Potentially Responsible Party for this site. All the work is being done by EPA.
Nutmeg Valley Road Fact Sheet
Superfund in New England