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February 22, 2012 - 11:06am

EPA announces removal of drums from Lehigh Valley derailment site

posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Lehigh Valley Derailment Site.

Press release:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that the removal of 235 drums from the Lehigh Railroad Derailment Superfund site in Le Roy, N.Y. will begin today. The EPA reviewed the sampling results for the contents of all the drums and in all cases considers them to be non-hazardous. The drums, which contain soil and rocks generated when wells were drilled at the site, were sampled during the past month.

A December 1970 train derailment resulted in the release of liquid trichloroethene (TCE) and cyanide crystals. The material in the drums was tested for these and other contaminants. No tested contaminants were detected in materials from 203 of the drums. In 32 of the drums, some detectable concentrations of contaminants were found.

Specifically, eight drums had detectable levels of TCE only, eight others had detectable levels of cyanide only and eight drums had detectable levels of both. One drum had detectable levels of TCE and cis-1,2-dichloroethene, which is a breakdown product of TCE. The remaining seven drums primarily had detections of either common lab contaminants or contaminants typically associated with petroleum products. These contaminants include: acetone, carbon disulfide, ethylbenzene, toluene, total xylenes, methylcyclohexane, and 2-butanone (MEK). In all cases the levels of these contaminants were low and are below health-based levels.

While the EPA considers the drums non-hazardous and eligible for disposal as non-hazardous waste, the Lehigh Valley Railroad has arranged for material to be disposed of at a landfill that is permitted to accept hazardous waste. The facility set to accept the waste is EQ-Wayne Disposal, Inc., Landfill in Belleville, Mich. Drum removal from the site will begin this morning and is expected to be completed by the end of the week. The Lehigh Valley Railraod will pay the cost of disposing of the drums, not taxpayers.

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