April 27, 2005

E. Fishkill site joins Superfund

Tainted-home owners hail more options

By Dan Shapley
Poughkeepsie Journal

The Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday designated a neighborhood north of Hopewell Junction as a Superfund site, opening up new options for addressing groundwater contamination that has fouled wells and tainted the air in dozens of homes.

The EPA can now spend money to investigate options for cleaning up the site and for providing a permanent source of clean water to affected homes. To date, the EPA has worked at the site under an emergency program to install filters and ventilation systems that prevent exposure to hazardous chemicals.

"I feel very confident that the EPA is going to do what they have to do to get us cleaned up. I have no doubt," said Debra Hall, a resident who has been actively lobbying for a thorough cleanup.

Filters installed

After discovering the contamination in February 2003, the EPA installed water filters at 37 homes and air ventilation systems at 42 homes. The concentration of trichloroethylene, or TCE, was 50 times higher in some wells than the federal safe drinking water standard.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has installed water filters on another 14 homes where the EPA found trichloroethane at levels as much as twice the acceptable concentration set by the state, but well below federal standards.

At other similar Superfund sites, the EPA has ordered the installation of pipes for public water systems. It has also used systems to pump and treat the polluted groundwater. The process takes years.

"All in all, I guess it's the best of the worst to be actually named [as a Superfund site], and to know that a permanent resolution is in the works," resident Betty Hicks said.

U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly, R-Katonah, has worked with the EPA and local residents.

"The toughest work lies ahead -- the cleanup," Kelly said. "But this means now the cleanup teams can get into the area and really get going."

The Superfund designation has been expected since September, when the site was nominated to the National Priorities List of most polluted sites.

The EPA believes Hopewell Precision Inc., a cabinet manufacturer on Ryan Drive, caused the pollution.

The Superfund announcement came near the close of the business day, and the company could not be reached for comment.

The EPA had been evaluating the finances of the business to decide how much of the cleanup cost it can afford.

"Hopewell Junction is a community where we were able to take quick action to protect people from an immediate risk," Acting EPA Regional Administrator Kathleen C. Callahan said. "This listing ensures that this site will continue to get the attention it needs."

Copyright 2005, Poughkeepsie Journal. Reprinted with Permission.
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