Processing Magazine

EPA finalizes cleanup plan for Cayuga County Superfund site

April 16, 2013
Cayuga, N.Y.
The groundwater in Cayuga County is contaminated with volatile organic compounds from a semiconductor manufacturing site.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a plan to address contaminated groundwater at the Cayuga County Ground Water Contamination Superfund site in Cayuga County, N.Y.

The groundwater at the site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds from a semiconductor manufacturing site in the city of Auburn.

The General Electric Company owned and manufactured semiconductors at the facility in Auburn. For a time, Powerex, Inc., a joint venture of GE and others, bought the facility and conducted similar operations there. These companies have been identified as parties potentially responsible for the contamination at the Cayuga site, and the EPA expects that they will be responsible for the cost of the cleanup.

The site contains contaminated groundwater that covers approximately 4.8 square miles extending from Auburn to the Village of Union Springs within portions of the townships of Aurelius, Fleming and Springport. The site was added to the federal Superfund list in 2002.

The final cleanup plan divides the groundwater beneath the site into three areas. For Area 1, which is the most contaminated area, the EPA will use bioremediation, a technique that involves adding chemicals and biological enhancements to the groundwater to promote the breakdown of the volatile organic compounds. The specific type of chemical and process to be used will be determined by the EPA as part of the design of the cleanup.

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For Area 2 of the groundwater, which contains lower levels of volatile organic compounds, the EPA will use natural processes to reduce the level of contamination to meet ground water standards. The EPA is requiring periodic collection and analysis of ground water samples to verify that the level and extent of contaminants are declining.

The EPA is deferring a decision on how to clean up the groundwater in Area 3. The EPA will do further investigation of that area prior to issuing a final cleanup decision.

An important aspect of the long-term cleanup of groundwater at the Cayuga Ground Water Contamination site involves a cleanup by GE, overseen by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, at the former Powerex facility. Successful completion of the groundwater cleanup at the former Powerex facility is essential to achieving the full benefits of the EPA’s cleanup plan. New York and the EPA are coordinating closely in their cleanup efforts.

Superfund is the federal cleanup program established by Congress in 1980 to investigate and clean up the country’s most hazardous sites.