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EPA investigates chemical plume

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Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 12:37 pm

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is currently trying to locate the origin of a toxic plume of trichloroethylene in the Mineola and New Hyde Park.

Kevin Willis, a project manager for the regional New York City office of the EPA, told the Mineola Village Board at last Wednesday night’s meeting that investigators for the agency will begin drilling holes east of Herricks Road over the next two weeks. He said the first evidence of it was located near Gold’s Gym on Fulton Avenue in Garden City Park.

“We’re looking for the source of the plume,” he told the board members. “We found it 400-feet deep in the aquifer in New Hyde Park.”

The underground plume of trichlorethylene, commonly found in dry cleaning fluid and in products used to clean machine parts, was moving east, Willis said. The EPA investigators have thus far tracked its presence from Denton Avenue east to Herricks Avenue north of Jericho Turnpike, he said.

The toxic plume does not represent a threat to drinking water in the area, Willis said.

“The drinking water’s fine. It’s been treated because of this stuff,” he said. “At this point, we’re just trying to make sure everybody’s okay. So far, everybody’s okay.”

The regional EPA office has retained Aquifer Drilling and Testing to drill 150 holes in the area as far east as Glen Cove Road to attempt to determine the origin and extent of the plume. Willis said the EPA may eventually drill wells, but added, “that’s way in the future.” 

“Once we’re done, you won’t even know it was done,” he said, explaining the holes would be sealed.

One crew will be in the field doing the work over the next two weeks and a second crew will be added to the job in July.

Willis said since tricholrethylene - also commonly known as TCE - is such a relatively common substance in cleaning fluids the source could be an old tank of it that has leaked. Or, he said, the ground beneath a site where it was heavily used might have deeply saturated the ground over time.

“It could be a multitude of things,” he said.

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