Construction of a new soil evaporation system began in mid-June at the site of the Lehigh Valley Railroad derailment Superfund site in Le Roy, NY. The innovative system will be used to remediate contaminated soil from the derailment that happened nearly 45 years ago, on December 6, 1970. A Lehigh Valley Railroad train went off the tracks near Gulf and Church roads in the northeast section of the town, spilling approximately 1 ton of cyanide crystals and 35,000 gallons of Trichloroethene (TCE) on the ground.

The organic compound TCE poses major health risks to humans and was detected in residential wells just weeks after the accident. In 1999, the site was declared a federal Superfund.

The long-awaited cleanup process may take up to two years to complete. Crews will place a vacuum on the contaminated soil to extract and capture the TCE in a filter and eventually return the soil back to the ground after samples are tested to verify its safety and established TCE soil criteria, said Michael Basile, community involvement coordinator with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

EPA Joins Forces with State Department of Environmental Conservation

The EPA has created a health and safety plan to protect both the onsite workers and community members throughout the cleanup process.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the EPA have supervised Lehigh Valley Railroad’s monitoring and remediation efforts stemming from the spill. In 2003, a waterline extension connecting all of the wells that were impacted by the contamination to municipal water was funded by the EPA and the DEC. In 2006, the railroad installed mitigation systems in many homes that were affected by fumes linked to the spill.

Additional Monitoring Efforts Underway East of Spring Creek

Lehigh Valley Railroad installed additional groundwater monitoring wells east of Spring Creek in 2012, in an effort to determine if contamination had spread further east. Additionally, monitoring wells were positioned on easement areas along the west side of the Caledonia-Mumford Central School property and on farm land that is privately-owned that is near the school’s athletic complex. So far, results of the samples have shown the contamination has not spread beyond Spring Creek.

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