The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Sept. 29, that they would soon begin a $24.7 million phase two clean up of the contaminated groundwater plume located under Peninsula Boulevard near Woodmere Middle School in Hewlett.
Due to improper dry cleaning equipment, carcinogenic chemicals known as tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) leached into the groundwater at two main areas.
One stretches from Cedarwood Dry Cleaners across West Broadway into the lot across from Hewlett Parkway, the other includes Piermont Dry Cleaners and other parts of the shopping center on Broadway.
Both PCE and TCE can cause cancer if ingested, even at a fraction of the level that the EPA found in the two sites in Hewlett. However, the drinking water for residents comes from a well 1,000 feet north of the site, which is regularly monitored for any sort of contamination.
These contaminations were initially discovered in 1991 and have been listed as one of the EPA’s priorities since 2004. The first phase of the cleanup began in 2011 when the EPA designed a series of pumps to bring the polluted groundwater to the surface to be treated, according to the EPA at a cost of $21.5 million.
There has not yet been a date announced for the start of phase two, but the plan is to address the sources of this contamination. The EPA will apply non-hazardous additives to the groundwater to help breakdown the contaminating chemicals, then extract the substances as a vapor.
Samples will be taken and tests conducted to ensure the cleanup goals are met. EPA officials said they will conduct a review of the sites within five years to check on the effectiveness of the cleanup.
Acting Regional Administrator, Catherine McCabe assured residents that the EPA had done their due diligence and was taking the best possible approach to fixing the issue. “EPA is using the best available technology at the Peninsula Boulevard site to protect the residents of Hewlett,” she stated in a news release.
The EPA held a public meeting at the Hewlett firehouse in June to explain the process and proposed remedy. Attendance was slight as many residents were unable to attend as the meeting was on the same night as Hewlett High School’s graduation. In addition, publicity of the meeting was lacking, according to community members.
For more information, go to epa.gov/superfund/peninsula-groundwater.