By: Nathan Lamb
Environmental officials are moving forward with plans to remediate a former industrial site that has contaminated groundwater in Endwell, a hamlet of approximately 11,000 people , roughly 80 miles south of Syracuse, New York.
At issue is a former IBM chemical burning pit, which is thought to have created a plume of underground contaminants that have migrated toward a nearby residential zone, according to this article in the Press & Sun Bulletin.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) found trichloroethylene and other industrial solvents in the plume, which is roughly 50 feet underground and just under 600 feet long.
Trichloroethylene is a volatile organic chemical that’s been linked to liver problems and increased cancer risk. Used to remove grease from metals and in some textile production, it typically enters groundwater through industrial site discharge, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Recent DEC testing indicates the plume hasn’t reached the drinking supply for the neighboring residential area—but also found that contaminants have migrated into bedrock beneath the plume, creating a potential chemical vapor hazard if the IBM site is converted to residential use in the future.
The DEC recently finalized a remediation plan for the site, which includes removing groundwater contaminants. The cleanup is slated to get underway this spring, but a discernable impact on contamination levels at the site will not be seen for 10 years.
The 57-acre IBM site was previously home to an electronics testing laboratory, which was also used to dispose of waste chemicals.
Cleanup measures for the site have been in the works since 2006.