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Contamination discovery may quicken cleanup of Olean Superfund site

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to speed up the soil and groundwater remediation plan for a former cutlery manufacturing plant in western New York state after additional contamination was discovered beneath the main...


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to speed up the soil and groundwater remediation plan for a former cutlery manufacturing plant in western New York state after additional contamination was discovered beneath the main manufacturing building.

The Alcas Cutlery Corporation facility has polluted the grounds with volatile organic compounds, often found in paint, solvents, aerosol sprays, cleaners, disinfectants, automotive products and dry cleaning fluids. Some of the compounds are considered carcinogenic.

Instead of a long-term cleanup at the Olean Well Field Superfund site in Olean, New York, the EPA is hosting a public meeting on August 5, 2014 to consider a quicker approach to breakdown the contaminants.

“The new EPA proposed plan calls for combination of cleanup measures,” states the EPA. “The groundwater at a portion of the source area will be treated by injecting chemicals into the ground to transform the contaminants into less harmful chemical compounds such as water and carbon dioxide, a process known as chemical oxidation. The additives are pumped into the groundwater at different depths targeting polluted areas.”

Contaminated soil from beneath the building will be excavated, states the EPA.

The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. at the Jamestown Community College, Cattaraugus County Campus, Cutco Theater, 260 North Union Street, Olean, New York. Comments will be accepted until August 22, 2014.

The Olean Well Field site is a 1.5 square-mile area located in Cattaraugus County that contains 53 wells, homes, and facilities with manufacturing operations. The Allegheny River and two of its tributaries, the Olean and Haskell Creeks, flow through the site. Previous industrial operations contaminated the soil and groundwater with volatile organic compounds. The site was added to the Superfund list in 1983. The former Alcas Cutlery facility currently houses an active cutlery manufacturing business and is one of the manufacturing operations impacting the site.

An EPA study identified four properties as sources of the contamination. These properties are AVX, Alcas, Cooper Industries, Inc. (formerly McGraw Edison), and the former Loohn’s Dry Cleaners and Launderers property.

At AVX, approximately 5,055 tons of contaminated soils were removed. A further study to address soil and water contamination is ongoing. A groundwater treatment system was installed at the Cooper Industries facility. At the Loohn’s Dry Cleaners, over 10,000 tons of contaminated soil were removed from the site and the dry cleaning building was demolished. The groundwater is monitored to assess the need for further response, if necessary.


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