DOE Contact: Gail Penny (516)344-3429
BNL Contact: Diane Greenberg (516)344-2345
Mailed 11/18/97




Upton, NY -- As part of its Superfund cleanup, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) has started operating a soil and groundwater treatment system to clean up remnants of a 1977 fuel oil spill in the central portion of the Laboratory's 5,300-acre site. The new system is expected to remove as much as 98 percent of the contamination from soils and groundwater.

The source of the contamination was a 1977 spill of approximately 25,000 gallons of fuel oil and mineral spirits, which were released through a ruptured line attached to a storage tank at the Lab's central steam plant. At that time, soil in the area was excavated, but residual contamination remained. The contamination in soil and groundwater includes breakdown products from the fuel oil, and a common solvent, tetrachloroethene. The contamination is confined to the Laboratory site, and no public, private or BNL supply wells have been impacted by it.

The cleanup system combines two innovative technologies, known as "air sparging" and "soil vapor extraction," to remove the contaminants from the soil and groundwater. Forty-eight air sparging wells - pipes that reach 80 feet below the ground - force pressurized air into the groundwater. The resulting air bubbles trap the compounds and ferry them upward. Then 23 soil vapor extraction wells - pipes that reach 30 feet below ground-level and are connected to powerful vacuum blowers - recover the resulting vapors and pipe them to a treatment facility. Carbon filters remove the contamination from the air before it is released.

The combination of the two technologies has been very effective at other sites around the country. At Brookhaven, this system is expected to operate for at least two years.

Environmental remediation at BNL is carried out under requirements of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, commonly known as the Superfund Law. BNL is on the Superfund list due to past operations that have resulted in soil and groundwater contamination. Remediation work is conducted under the framework of an interagency agreement among the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DOE. DOE owns the BNL property and oversees and pays for all cleanup costs.

The technologies for this treatment system were selected following a public meeting and through a comprehensive evaluation of alternatives.

A more detailed description of this cleanup action is available in a document titled "Operable Unit IV Remedial Action Work Plan" (BNL, May 1997), copies of which can be found at the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library, Longwood Public Library, Brookhaven Lab's research library or the EPA Region II library in Manhattan.

Brookhaven National Laboratory carries out basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences and in selected energy technologies. Brookhaven is operated by Associated Universities, Inc., a nonprofit research management organization, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.