Contact: Mona S. Rowe, or Diane Greenberg

Issued 3/26/98



Brookhaven Lab Plans First Cleanup Project Off Site

Project to Address Chemical Contamination South of Lab


Upton, NY - The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory plans to use an innovative cleanup technology to treat chemical contamination in groundwater south of the Lab. Construction of BNL's first off-site cleanup system will begin this summer on vacant land in an industrial park just south of the Long Island Expressway.

The system will treat carbon tetrachloride and other volatile organic compounds previously detected in groundwater monitoring wells at depths of between 180-300 feet below land surface. The primary contaminant, carbon tetrachloride, is a solvent that BNL once used to clean metal parts and machinery. In the past, it was also widely used by industry as a dry cleaning fluid and by homeowners as a spot remover.

Although contamination has been found in on-going sampling of deep monitoring wells, a 1995 sampling of residential wells just south of the industrial park showed no contamination from BNL above state and federal drinking water standards. Residential wells are generally shallow, ranging from 80-120 feet below land surface. As a precautionary measure, however, the Department of Energy offered homes and businesses in the area free public water hookups beginning in January 1996.

The Suffolk County Water Authority has stated that there is no contamination from BNL in the public drinking water supply.

The highest concentrations of carbon tetrachloride are found beneath the industrial park. Monitoring wells in that area, first installed in 1995, have measured carbon tetrachloride in concentrations of up to 5,140 parts per billion. The drinking water standard for carbon tetrachloride is 5 parts per billion.

The cleanup system will use six recirculating wells that will mix air with groundwater, causing the volatile solvents in the water to be removed from the water and collected in the air. Clean water will be returned to the ground, and the air will be sent through a carbon filter to remove the solvents. The clean air is then recirculated back to the wells. Each of the six wells will treat up to 100 gallons per minute.

BNL will hold two information sessions on the off-site treatment system, so that community members can get information, ask questions and meet the project team. The information sessions are:

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. The Lab is on the Superfund list primarily 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and DOE. DOE has jurisdiction over the BNL property and pays for the cleanup.

To address contamination on the BNL property, the Lab has installed four remediation systems since 1996 to remove solvents and fuel oil from groundwater and soil, and to prevent further migration of these contaminants off the property.

For more information on environmental remediation at BNL, community residents may call Peter Genzer at 344-3174.

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