EPA Responds To Local Worries By Pointing To Past Cleanup Efforts...
WAWARSING – Spurred on by local environmental activist Kim Candela and a series of community meetings held late last year on the possibility of lasting damage from past pollution in the Wawarsing area, State Senator John Bonacic sent a March 1 letter to federal Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 Director Catherine McCabe, through the department's Emergency and Remedial Response Division, asking that the EPA undertake a "preliminary assessment" of contaminated former industrial sites where the Napanoch Paper Mill, Ellenville Scrap Iron and Metal, and Channel Master once operated.
Candela, who lost her young son to a rare form of cancer earlier in 2016, wanted to know whether there was any chance of "cancer clusters," or circumstances that made the likelihood of certain cancerous and other health problems more prevalent. As did the dozens who attended her meetings.
The EPA replied that they would assess the situation and get back to Bonacic, Candela and the community.
Senator Bonacic's office received a response late in April, which was only made available to the Journal, and by extension this community, upon request in recent weeks.
"In your Petition, you indicated that you were concerned that area residents were at risk of exposure to contamination resulting from historical activities in this area, and identified three former industrial sites in the area," came that reply from the Emergency and Remedial Response Division's acting director, John Prince. "As an initial step in the PA process, EPA conducted an extensive search of Federal and State environmental records databases for the Town of Wawarsing, to identify sites or releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants that may be eligible for a response under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund. In addition, EPA contacted the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for any records or additional information that they have available on the area. Based on this search, EPA identified seven potential sites that we would consider assessing under the Petition, including the three that were identified in your letter."
Continuing, Prince's letter noted how one Wawarsing site — Channel Master — was already subject to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act "and is currently being addressed under the RCRA Corrective Action Program, with oversight by the NYSDEC," making it ineligible for further evaluation.
"The remaining six sites were considered because of either a release of, or potential to release, hazardous substances. Four of the sites identified have had PAs completed, one site had a Pre-CERCLA Screening (PCS), and one site had a completed removal action. In addition, one of the four sites is already on the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites, and another site is a state-lead remedial action site."
Documentation showed completion of clean-ups at a Park Street residence in Ellenville, the former light company building on the village's Main Street, Ellenville Scrap Iron and Metal, the closed Napanoch Paper Mill, the former Rock Haven landfill, and the former VAW plant on Route 209.
The former Channel Master factory, now owned by Avnet, was noted as being, "a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) site currently being addressed under the RCRA Corrective Action Program," making it "not eligible for further evaluation under CERCLA."
"Avnet Inc., operates a groundwater recovery and treatment system at the Channel Master site with the objective of removing volatile organic compounds, primarily 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), from the groundwater. The system has been operating since 1987," read the EPA's letter. "Monitoring on the system is reported semi-annually to NYSDEC. Groundwater quality is also reported semi annually to the NYSDEC. The data show the recovery system has hydraulic control of the TCA plume; however, the TCA continues to be present, likely due to a persistent source."
In summary, Prince said the documentation backed up the federal agency's determination that there was nothing for them to do in Ellenville or Wawarsing.
"For the reasons set forth above, and as supported by the file search review, EPA has concluded that an area-wide Preliminary Assessment for the Town of Wawarsing is not warranted," Prince wrote. "The work already conducted or planned by the NYSDEC or the EPA on the individual sites is equivalent to the level of evaluation that would be performed as part of a new Preliminary Assessment."
As for further complaints, Prince listed contact numbers at all relevant agencies overseeing remediation, or monitoring completed cases.
We'll see, now, how the community reacts to such dry information.