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EPA Finalizes Cleanup Plan for Cortese Toxic Site in Sullivan County, NY

Release Date: 10/21/2010
Contact Information: Jim Fallon (212) 637-5034,

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its plan to clean up areas of contaminated liquid waste and ground water at the Cortese Landfill Superfund site in Sullivan County, NY. The ground water was contaminated by hazardous waste disposed of at the site when it was operating.

The cleanup plan for the Cortese Landfill Superfund site will address the recently discovered contamination underneath the landfill directly,” said Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “Now that the plan is in place, we can move forward to fully address the remaining contamination.”

Under EPA’s cleanup plan, a series of technologies will be used to address contaminated liquid waste located primarily underneath the area of the landfill where drums were disposed and a smaller drum-disposal area located south of the landfill, adjacent to several previously identified contaminated lagoons. If left unaddressed, this liquid waste would continue to contaminate ground water. The ground water flows to the Delaware River. One of the technologies to be used is “air sparging,” which involves injecting air directly into the contaminated liquid waste 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, accepted municipal waste from approximately 1970 to 1981. For a six-month period in 1973, 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.

In 1994, EPA selected a cleanup plan for the site, which required the removal of buried drums and contaminated soil, the capping of the former landfill, the installation of a ground water extraction and treatment system, and limits on access.

Lagoons have been drained excavated.
Other areas of soil have been excavated.
5000 drums have been removed.
Three tractor trailer loads of hazardous sludge and 50 dump trucks of contaminated soil have been removed.

EPA selected the cleanup plan after considering all comments submitted during a 30-day public comment period, which ended on September 12, 2010. Copies of the 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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