Construction Begins On Five Off-site GW Treatment Systems

June 2003

Construction Begins On Five Off-site GW Treatment Systems

Construction of the North Street carbon-filtration groundwater treatment systems


In 1989, BNL was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Priorities List for cleanup of hazardous waste and groundwater contamination because of environmental effects resulting from past practices, some of which impacted groundwater.

Since that time several important steps were taken to ensure that residents continued to have safe drinking water. The steps included connecting more than 1,500 homes and businesses in the Shirley-Manorville area that previously used private well water, to the public water supply. BNL also launched several initiatives to prevent further contamination of the Laboratory site and the underlying aquifer. More than 100 sampling wells were installed and continually monitored to determine the exact location of the groundwater contamination. Nine water-treatment systems were in place throughout the Laboratory property to stop contaminants from moving off of the BNL site, and one system had already been installed off site in an industrial park south of the L.I. Expressway.

The Department of Energy, along with the EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, signed the Operable Unit III Record of Decision (ROD) and other RODs that mandated groundwater cleanup actions that included installation of treatment systems to cleanup the groundwater beneath the communities south and southeast of the Laboratory. Additional sampling wells were installed to fully characterize the contamination. Once characterization was complete, work on the design and location of the treatment systems began.

Groundwater Treatment Systems

Initially, six new groundwater treatment systems were designed to clean up groundwater contamination off the BNL site. Five of the systems were to treat volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are chemicals found in solvents, fuel oils, polishes, and cleansers. The sixth system was to address the ethylene dibromide (EDB) plume discovered near BNL's southeast boundary in the vicinity of Weeks Avenue, Manorville. Carbon-filtration systems were selected to clean the groundwater. After community input, two systems were combined at North Street. The off-site treatment systems constructed were:

  • North Street - Began operating in May 2004 and is expected to run until 2012. Monitoring will continue until 2030.
  • North Street East - Began operating in June 2004 and is expected to run until 2014. Monitoring will continue until 2030.
  • Industrial Park East - Began operating in June 2004. This system was placed in standby mode in December 2009. The Upper Glacial aquifer will be monitored until 2019, the Magothy aquifer until 2030.
  • Airport/LIPA - These systems began operating in 2004 to capture the leading edges of the OU III VOC plume and VOC contamination in the Magothy aquifer. They are expected to operate until 2017. The Upper Glacial aquifer will be monitored until 2030; the Magothy aquifer until 2065.
  • EDB - Began operating in August 2004 and is expected to operate until 2015 when drinking water standards will be reached.

Community Input

In addition to the community outreach that took place for the RODs, after putting together a series of potential options for the placement of the off-site treatment systems, additional input was sought from the community. Press releases were issued, articles were written in cleanupdate, area residents were canvassed, and brochures explaining the systems were mailed to residents asking for their input and inviting them to a June 11, 2002 workshop, or to schedule meetings with the project team.

After listening to community concerns about the treatment systems being located in residential areas, BNL made several modifications to their designs:

  • The Airport/LIPA system was housed at the Brookhaven Calabro Airport
  • Two systems were housed within one building in the North Street area
  • A second system was sited at the Industrial Park
  • The system for the EDB plume was sited west of Weeks Avenue

Documents / Links

OU III Record of Decision

Learn more about BNL's groundwater projects

To learn more about BNL's groundwater cleanup, see the latest copy of the Annual Groundwater Status Report