Home   -   Morse/EPT   -   SHBC /NCR/Axiohm   -    Sewers   -    SH Elem School   -  Meetings   -   Views
Sewers (and "Preferential Pathways")

All this stuff HAS to go SOMEWHERE...

2005  -  2006  -  2007  -  2008  -  2009 -  2010

Sewer Lines

South Hill Sewer Lines - Click on the map for a PDF version.

Many of the successful industries on South Hill (Morse Chain, NCR, and Therm, among them) have involved metal fabrication, which involves oils for cutting, finishing, and lubricating, and solvents to remove oil residues from in-process and finished parts, as well as from the scrap left behind.

Cutting oils used in processing the metal parts were found everywhere - coating the finished parts and dripping off the pieces of scrap and shavings which were hauled in bins from the plant to recycling centers. PCBs were found in this oil, and as our knowledge of the problems with PCBs grew (in the mid- and late 20th Century), so did concern about the oil runoff from the plants.

The use of chlorinated solvents as degreasing agents (to remove the oil from the metal) increased in an attempt to limit the spread of the PCB-laden oil. However, as it was learned that some of the active agents in these solvents themselves presented problems, efforts were made to reduce their use.

The volumes of metal, cutting oils, solvents, and water that moved through the plant sites are large. The amounts of metal scrap and the oil it was treated with are the subject of ongoing discussions between Morse staff and County Health officials (see here), and the solvents used and the water taken in and discharged by the plant are detailed in the 1981 application Morse filed for a discharge permit. A schematic water-flow diagram from that application is here.

DEC South Hill Area Map

DEC "South Hill Study Area"
Click on the map for a PDF version
Click here for a (large) JPG map.

Over the past few years, much attention has been given to ways to better understand the ramifications of the fractured bedrock on which our South Hill neighborhoods sit. While there have been repeated groundwater tests at particular points and depths, and all manner of soil vapor tests throughout the area, the questions of how has the TCE so prevalent in so many different areas, and how has it been transported are still difficult to answer. The efforts to improve our understanding represent combinations of geology, hydrology, chemistry, physics, economics, and politics. One theory that has been advanced is that of "preferential pathways" - fractures in or disruptions in the underlying bedrock caused by construction - especially the installation of sewer lines. A highlight of the DEC South Hill Area map above (more easily seen in the larger versions of the map) is the "NCR Sewer" and the "Sewer Lateral" which runs across South Aurora Street (Danby Road). Whether the toxins found around these sewer lines were carried IN the sewers (and leaked out) or simply were carried through the openings in the bedrock which were created to install the sewers, these toxins are still present in distressingly high levels in samples taken from soil along the length of the sewers themselves.

Though Emerson has gone to great effort to document the problems around the "NCR Sewer", there are similar problems along the sewer lines running from the plant site down Turner Place and down South Cayuga Street. EPT has not produced any plant records detailing just where the 1200 gallons per week of TCE (the estimated usage in the mid-1970s) went after they were used for degreasing operations. It would seem that some fraction went down the sewers (whether intentionally or inadvertently) and some may have leaked into the shallow depths of glacial till and into the bedrock below it

2005

In October 2005, this Report was issued by Forrest Environmental Services, Inc. on the Electrical Resistivity (ER) imaging tests performed at the EPT site in early July 2005 and again in late September 2005.  The report describes the theory of the dipole arrays and measurements, and how they suggest patterns of water and different substances under the ground surface.  The results indicate various "conductive anomalies" which "appear to be saturated fractures."

A somewhat fleshed-out version of the FESI report states "The size and position of the mapped features in the resulting profiles may be slightly offset from their actual locations in the subsurface but still represent the overall pattern of bedrock features and, thus, are consistent with the approach of a low resolution survey of the site." "The results of the geophysical survey reveal a complex geologic and hydrogeologic network."  "This preferential flow through the openings often results in greater groundwater flow velocities (as compared to flow through the rock matrix) and can yield unexpectedly tortuous flow paths depending upon the level of connectivity between the various openings in the rock.  The pathways by which the ground water flows through bedding plane fractures, joints, faults, or all of the above at the EPT facility is not directly addressed by this survey."  (The graphic results are here.)

In this "Onsite Assessment", ESC reviews various maps and previous environmental reports to try to piece together the history of operations in the various buildings.  "The solvent TCE, was reportedly used to clean metal parts and scrap metal in conveyor type vapor degreasers located on the ground floor of the main plant building (Building 4 - 507 Degreasing Department).  Only one of three areas requiring "oily soil remediation" was treated to a point that it met applicable standards.  SVOCs and PCBs were found in the soil remaining after various corroded drums ("discovered" in Dec. 2004) and other pieces of scrap were removed.  Activities once performed in various sections of the plant (mostly no longer used) include solvent degreasing and recovery, copper and cadmium plating.  One degreasing using was the "source of an unknown amount of solvent released to the sanitary sewer system", though its exact location is unknown.  Oil leaking from scrap was captured in scrap loading area but there were discharges which were detected in the South Cayuga St. sewer and in the outcrops along West Spencer Street. There was a "Cyanide Room Drainage Trench", and acid pickling tanks.  There were coal piles and four "below grade oil quench pits" which are no longer in service, though a fifth quench oil pit is still in use.  Various underground storage tanks are no longer in use and have been closed in accordance with NYSDEC regulations.  Many of the aboveground storage tanks still remain in service, but ten tanks, including a 100,000-gallon fuel oil tank, have been removed.  Potential migration of chemicals from offsite sources (including Therm, NCR/Axiohm, and various other spill sites) is also reported.  Test samples in the Axiohm disposal area show high levels of TCE, cis-1,2-DCE, vinyl chloride, SVOCs and metals.  21 specific "Areas of Concern" throughout the EPT site are detailed, as are the sewer lines down Turner Place and South Cayuga Street, and "seven potential migration pathways" identified on old maps. 

2006

In January 2006 - in the two days just AFTER the Public Meeting, ESC released two reports which had not been discussed at the open meeting - this description of a plan to investigate soil surrounding the two sanitary sewer lines running down Turner Place from the EPT site - one called the 1878 Line and the other called the 1979 Line.  There would be 24 borings just to the west of each of the lines, spaced about 100 feet apart, with soil samples analyzed in the field for VOCs using a photo ionization detector and then shipped to a lab for further analysis, and this letter from ESC to DEC reporting the results of Nov. 18, 2005 vadose zone tests performed along the "NCR sewer" line which runs downhill on the east side of the plant site.  The highest values found were for TCE with a reading of 477 ug/m^3 at the downhill end, near where the line runs to South Aurora Street, and 536 ug/m^3 at the uphill end where it enters the EPT site.

On May 19, ESC released a notice to Turner Place Residents stating the their proposed work plan to investigate the Turner Place sanitary sewer lines has been approved. The work will involve drilling soil borings in the public rights of way to test whether historic releases of site related compounds have occurred from these sewer lines. The work was performed during the week of June 5, 2006.

"A brief summary" prepared by EPT describing:
- the completion of Phase IV Indoor Air Testing; two additional homes offered mitigation systems
- Turner Place Sewer Investigation - borings taken along sanitary sewer lines
- Supplemental Geophysical Survey to begin the week of July 24, 2006
Modifications being made to remediation system: more wells and new treatment equipment.

Dated July 28, 2006, this ESC Report and associated map detail the results of soil tests performed along Turner Place June 6-8, 2006. Some of the samples are listed for depths as shallow as "0.5 - 2 Ft." and others are as deep as "6 - 8 Ft." There are many chemicals sampled and we see the same wide variations in test values that we've seen in the house air tests. The highest TCE levels are at the intersection of Columbia Street with Turner Place. This correlates with some of the higher sub-slab TCE readings in the homes above and below the west side of the intersection.   The highest readings were found in sample locations between two of the homes with the highest subslab TCE levels: 207 South Hill Terrace and 316 Turner Place.

This intersection is also the spot where the overloading of the storm sewer system has been most evident. During heavy rains, the manhole cover near the intersection levitates with water that the sewer cannot contain. The ongoing Aurora Street sewer project is supposed to remedy this, by connecting a 24" diameter sewer line to the Town of Ithaca line which comes down Aurora Street. This new line will start at the intersection of Columbia and Aurora and run down to the Wastewater Treatment facility behind Aldi's. The existing 14" diameter line will continue to serve the "local" neighborhood needs. With the high TCE readings noted in the "NCR Sewer line" running from the EPT plant property to South Aurora Street, one can only wonder how much TCE has been carried through these sewer lines, and where it has settled. 

On October 20, "WSP Environmental Strategies LLC" (the new name for Environmental Strategies Consulting LLC) released this summary of Results of "Packer testing and sampling" performed onsite August 14 - 23, 2006.  The tests hoped to explore the nature of open horizontal bedding plane fractures present in extraction wells EW-1 and EW-3 at approximately 52 feet below the top of each well.  "The packer testing results indicate that the bedding fracture identified at 52 feet is a transport pathway for groundwater below the current remediation.  The results suggest that the horizontal bedding plane fracture has been intersected by a vertical conduit (joint set), which allows affected groundwater to migrate downward to the bedding fracture plane... the upper C-zone and B-zone wells are not in direct hydraulic connection with the deeper extraction wells."

On November 27, WSP released this Supplemental Geophysical Survey - a 225-page report, with all manner of theory and discussions of the additional Electrical Resistivity tests, with results displayed with various colorful graphs.  Fields notes and tables of points along the various lines are included, as are notes of anomalies found.  Unfortunately, there is no discussion about what all this might mean in terms of changes to be made in testing or remediation efforts.

2007

WSP Releases EPT "Supplemental Remedial Investigation" Work Plan

WSP Environmental Strategies has submitted a Supplemental Remedial Investigation Work Plan, dated June 29, 2007, on behalf of Emerson, responding to the changes requested by the NYSDEC in a letter dated May 31 (below). The report is lengthy, attempting (as requested by NYSDEC) to coordinate more of the intended activities into single planning documents. The Plan discusses:
- soil borings and investigations into the identified "Areas of Concern",
- further investigation of the Fire Water Reservoir,
- installation of additional monitoring wells and more exploratory borings to continue the geophysical surveys,
- soil vapor testing in the Phase VI area (for which NYSDEC has requested indoor air testing), and
- soil vapor testing in "groundwater discharge" areas.

In addition to the Work Plan text (discussed above), WSP released various maps:
- Topographic map of the EPT Site Location,
- Areas of Concern, showing intended soil borings, soil vapor points, and test locations,
- Former and Proposed vapor point locations, downhill from the plant,
-
Former and Proposed vapor point locations, uphill from the plant, along the "NCR Sewer",
- Proposed Exploratory Boring and B-Zone monitoring Wells, most downhill from the plant,
- Identified Structural Features and points for further exploration
This last map shows some of the fractures and other structures that were identified through the electrical resistivity studies performed last year, showing "fracture trends" that seem to correspond with some of the locations of the higher TCE readings found in indoor tests.

WSP also released a suggested Project Schedule (timeline) and their comprehensive set of relevant "Standard Operating Procedures". We offer our sincere thanks to WSP for the timely availability of these documents.

Supplemental Remedial Investigation Report Released by WSP/EPT

A comprehensive report on the 2007 tests and studies performed by Emerson's consultants, WSP Environmental Strategies has been released, and an electronic copy was provided to us by the NYSDEC - Thank you!  The report discusses the findings of tests performed in and around the "Areas of Concern" on the EPT site, the continuing investigations into the "Fire Water Reservoir" (see Figure 8), the evaluation of the bedrock under the plant (which extends into our neighborhoods) and the results of soil vapor tests throughout the study area, including the Phase VI expansion area, bounded by Columbia Street, Turner Place, Prospect Street, and South Aurora St. (see Figures 13-14)  There are discussions, tables of results, maps, and "conceptual block diagrams" of the bedrock.

Much attention is placed on the "NCR Sewer", which has been the site of high TCE readings where it runs along the EPT plant site and South Aurora Street. These new readings confirm the path of pollution along Aurora Street, Columbia Street, Turner Place and down to East Spencer Street. The readings also confirm the suspicion that TCE has been leaking all along from the Fire Reservoir area down the hill into our neighborhood.  We look forward to analysis of the raft of new material by the representatives of NYSDEC and NYSDOH at the next Public Meeting.

2008

BORG WARNER CONSULTANTS POINT BLAME AT NCR, THERM

Borg Warner and their lawyers retained Roux Associates, consultants who have released an evaluation of the EPT site and surrounding areas. They look at the contents of toxins sampled from sanitary sewers at various points on the hill, and develop "Soil Vapor Signatures" which are associated with the various sites. They contend that much of the pollution found down near the bottom of the hill (North of Columbia Street and along East Spencer Street) comes from NCR and Therm, rather than from the EPT site.  Their report appears to ignore the distinction between the City's sanitary sewers and the storm sewers - the storm sewers are the ones into which Morse operations discharged toxins over the years.

The full report is over 64 MB, but it is here for download. The text section alone is here. The data tables are here.  There are no maps of the storm sewers, but these maps show the sanitary sewers and the calculated "Soil Vapor Signatures".  (The JPG files are the smallest in size. The PDF and TIF formats are much larger. The maps are 36"x24" full-size.)

EPT and Surrounding Areas: Historical Sanitary Sewers, Sample Locations
 PDF   JPG   TIF
EPT and Surrounding Areas: (Source-)Coded Historical Sanitary Sewers
 PDF   JPG   TIF
EPT and Surrounding Areas: Soil Vapor ("Signatures") and Vapor Results
 PDF   JPG   TIF

 

2009

PUBLIC MEETING DISCUSSES PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO 1994 "RECORD OF DECISION"; SEWERS CONSIDERED MAIN PATH

Interested neighbors, City officials, and members of the media met with representatives of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the NYS Department of Health (DOH) on in two sessions on March 5th, to discuss the proposed amendments to the 1994 "Record of Decision" and the steps proposed to "upgrade" the clean-up efforts on the Emerson Power Transmission (EPT) site.

The agency officials expressed their belief that the "infamous" Fire Water Reservoir still needs to be cleaned up, but the main source of the soil vapors now intruding into neighborhood homes seems to be the sewers. EPT admits that TCE was dumped into the sewers running down South Cayuga Street and Turner Place. Test readings along those sewer lines remain high. Test readings along Columbia Street and East Spencer Street are also high, but the toxins in those lines also include contaminants from the Therm and NCR/Axiohm sites.

The remediation of the sewers is expected to be proposed in the next months and will be the subject of an additional Public Meeting. Expansion of the areas in which homes and the soils under them will be tested will also continue. Susan Shearer of the NYS DOH commented on testing the vapor exposure pathways into the various neighborhoods: "We follow wherever the data takes us and we haven't stopped yet." Tests have been performed along South Aurora Street already and released to the homeowners. Results of preliminary tests along the sewer lines from Therm have just been received and are being evaluated.

Krisy Gashler's Ithaca Journal summary of the meeting is here.  

An Adobe PDF version of the slide show presented by the NYS officials is here.

The Amendment document is here - a 3.4 MB PDF. Public comments in written form are invited, and should be sent to the DEC's Gregg Townsend by March 20. We are grateful to Gregg for providing us with these documents as well as the slide show copy.

Krisy Gashler's initial Ithaca Journal report on the Amendment release is here.

The Remedial steps discussed in the Amendment are limited to changes ON-SITE at Emerson.  They have already "upgraded" the groundwater extraction system which has been attempting to remove contaminants from the Fire Reservoir Area since the early 1990s.  A plan is in place to better evaluate the system's effectiveness. The document notes that
"A TCE concentration of 43,000 parts per billion (ppb) was detected in a sample collected from this area as recently as July 2007. (The corresponding groundwater quality standard for TCE is 5 ppb.)"
- So there is clearly a LONG way to go toward remediating this area.

In Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) is proposed for the initial cleanup of the "Former Department 507 Degreaser" area groundwater, followed by Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA). This is proposed with various tests needed to determine if the groundwater is really being cleaned up and to what extent nearby groundwater is affected. The contaminated soils in this area simply will be capped in place, with various restrictions implemented to limit access and use, to avoid disturbing the encapsulated contaminants.

Other areas on the plant grounds will be capped with asphalt to try to keep the contaminants from reaching the ground surface, while some areas which now have "a weathered petroleum product" will be excavated and removed.  Basements of on-site buildings into which the contaminants have been leaking will be sealed and caulked.  Building 24 (once home to some operations of the PRI and other non-profit groups) will be abandoned and access to it restricted.

Though the Amendment document discusses (on page 6) the residual contamination of the Turner Place and South Cayuga Street sewers and acknowledges the adverse impact on air quality in neighboring homes, no solutions or proposed remedial steps are presented.  The document states:
"Remedial actions to address the off-site migration of contaminated soil vapor will be selected by the NYSDEC following EPT's evaluation of the investigation results and completion of an alternatives analysis."
In other words, real remediation of the toxins "off-site" - in our neighborhoods - is left for discussion some time in the future, even though the "final" SRP/Alternatives Analysis report was released September 2008
.


DETAILS OF SOILS AND STRUCTURES TESTS AROUND SEWERS RELEASED

Though it was released on April 23, 2009 as a part of the Axiohm cleanup effort, the "Final Immediate Soil Vapor Investigation (ISVI) and Vapor Intrusion Summary Report" contains many details of the various tests performed along the various sewer lines on South Hill and within the structures nearby. Links to the entire report, as well as to the sections of it, are at the bottom of this section. Links to "Addendum Appendix G" - released in May 2010 are here.

Previous investigations conducted by EPT and the South Hill Business Campus detected impacted soil vapor in the vicinity of the sanitary sewer lines on South Hill.  A portion of the South Hill sanitary sewer line originates beneath the building at the former Axiohm facility and extends in a northerly direction across the eastern portion of the EPT property, then continues along Danby Road/South Aurora Street to Columbia Street.  The Danby Road sewer line connects with the former Axiohm sewer line just north of Coddington Road on the eastern side of the EPT facility.  At Columbia Street, the line connects with Hudson Street sewer line, a portion of which originates from the Therm manufacturing facility.  The former Axiohm/Danby Road line, connected with the Hudson Street lines then runs west one block to Turner Place, then turns northward again and runs two blocks to East Clinton Street.  An illustration of the approximate South Hill sewer system network is provided in Figure 3. (Report, p.4)

The following excerpts are from sections of the ISVI document which discuss the soil vapor test results - those tests performed OUTDOORS, in streets, driveways, lawns and other areas. The locations of these test points are shown in the map in Figure 4. The results are shown (superimposed onto sectional maps) in Figures 9-A, 9-B, 9-C, and 9-D. (These are all PDF files.)

SOIL VAPOR RESULTS

A total of 18 soil vapor samples, 1 outdoor ambient air sample, and 3 soil vapor duplicate samples were collected during the ISVI and are identified below.
  • 18 soil vapor samples (SV-01 through SV-02, SV-04 through SV-17, SV-01P and SV-02P)
  • One outdoor ambient air sample (December 2007)
  • Three soil vapor duplicate samples (September 2007 and April/November 2008). 
Soil vapor samples were collected at four locations in September 2007, five locations in December 2007, five locations in April 2008, and four locations in November 2008.  As outlined in Section 1.3, soil vapor samples were collected directly above, adjacent to, and in the vicinity of the South Hill neighborhood sewer system based on sections of the system.  The following soil vapor sampling results are presented based on the area of the sewer system evaluated
.

Concentrations of PCE were detected in 9 of 18 soil vapor samples.  PCE concentrations ranged from 0.78 µg/m3 (SV-01) to 2,200 µg/m3 (SV-14).  TCE concentrations were also detected in 9 of 18 soil vapor samples at concentrations ranging from 0.52 µg/m3 (SV-13) to 210 µg/m3 (SV-04).  The highest concentrations of TCE were detected in soil vapor samples SV-04 (210 µg/m3) and SV-05 (170 µg/m3).  CVOC concentrations of 1,1,1-TCA were also detected in soil vapor samples.  Notable concentrations of 1,1,1-TCA were detected in soil vapor samples SV-04 (71 µg/m3), SV-05 (72 µg/m3), and SV-01P (21 µg/m3).  Validated VOC analytical results for soil vapor samples are provided in Table 3.
(Report, pp.15-16)

Southern Portion of Sanitary Sewer System (See Figure 9-A.)

The southern portions of the sewer system evaluated during this investigation receive sanitary discharge from the sewer lines originating at the former Axiohm facility and Ithaca College.  The soil vapor samples were collected from within and directly above the Ithaca College lateral line (SV-04, SV-05, SV-06, and SV-07) utility trench, at multiple depth intervals (SV-01P and SV-02P) from within the bedrock adjacent to and below the connection point of the Ithaca College lateral and the former Axiohm sewer lines, as well as a location (SV-08) away from these lines.  The detected VOC analytical results for soil vapor samples collected from within the southern portion of the sanitary sewer system are presented on Figure 9-A.
The soil vapor samples (SV-04 and SV-05) detecting the highest concentration of TCE and 1,1,1-TCA were collected directly above the Ithaca College sewer lateral to the west of Danby Road.  Soil vapor samples (SV-06 and SV-07) collected up gradient, above the lateral located to the east of Danby Road, were non-detect for CVOCs.  The permanent soil vapor sample (SV-01P) collected from the shallow bedrock (15 ft bgs) below and to the west of the former Axiohm sewer line also detected concentrations of TCE (21 µg/m3) and 1,1,1-TCA (21 µg/m3), while the permanent soil vapor sample (SV-02P) collected from the deeper bedrock interval (25 ft bgs) had no detection of CVOCs. 
In addition, PCE concentrations were detected in soil vapor samples SV-04 (20 µg/m3) and SV-05 (12 µg/m3).  These two samples were collected from above the Ithaca College sewer lateral.  Soil vapor sample (SV-08) collected away from the sewer lines reported no detections of CVOCs
.
(Report, p.16)

Central Portion of Sanitary Sewer System (See Figure 9-B.)

Central portions of the sanitary sewer system evaluated during this investigation receive discharge from the Danby Road lateral and the former Axiohm sewer lines.  Soil vapor samples were collected from two locations (SV-09 and SV-10) away from the sewer lines, one location (SV-12) directly above the Danby Road sewer lateral line, and one location (SV-11) above the former Axiohm sewer line at the connection point with the Danby Road sewer lateral.  Soil vapor sample SV-11 detected concentrations of TCE (13 µg/m3), PCE (4.0 µg/m3), and 1,1,1-TCA (1.20 µg/m3) above the former Axiohm sewer line on the eastern portion of EPT.  No CVOCs were detected in soil vapor sample SV-12 collected from above the Danby Road lateral.  Lower concentrations of PCE were detected in soil vapor sample collected at SV-09 (0.68 µg/m3) and 1,1,1-TCA in soil vapor sample SV-10 (1.10 µg/m3). The detected VOC analytical results for soil vapor samples collected from within the central portion of the sanitary sewer system are presented on Figure 9-B. (Report, p. 16-17)

Northern Portion of Sanitary Sewer System (See Figure 9-C.)

The northern portion of the South Hill neighborhood sewer system assessed during this investigation included two soil vapor samples located west of the former Axiohm and Danby Road combined sewer line.  Concentrations of PCE were detected in soil vapor sample SV-01 (0.78 µg/m3) and 1,1,1-TCA concentrations in soil vapor sample SV-02 (3.0 µg/m3).  The detected VOC analytical results for soil vapor samples collected from within the northern portion of the sanitary sewer system are presented on Figure 9-C. (Report, p. 17)

Eastern Portion of Sanitary Sewer System (See Figure 9-D.)

The evaluation of sanitary sewer system located in the eastern portion of the study area receives sanitary sewer discharge from the Therm facility and the Hudson Street sewer system.  The two most prevalent CVOCs detected in soil vapor samples collected from this area were PCE and TCE. The highest concentration of PCE was detected at soil vapor sample (SV-14) collected above the Columbia Street Sewer Lateral which is located down gradient of the confluence of the Hudson Street sewer lines and the Therm sewer lines. An additional soil vapor sample SV-13, collected from above the Columbia Street sewer line down gradient of SV-14, detected PCE concentrations at 88 J µg/m3.  PCE concentrations were detected in soil vapor points SV-15, SV-16, and SV-17 at 120 µg/m3, 17 µg/m3, and 60 µg/m3, respectively.  These soil vapor points were collected directly above the sewer lines originating from Therm and were located up gradient of soil vapor samples SV-13, SV-14, and SV-15.  The detected VOC analytical results for soil vapor samples collected from within the eastern portion of the sanitary sewer system are presented on Figure 9-D. 

Additionally, TCE concentrations were detected in soil vapor samples collected from SV-13 (0.52 µg/m3), SV-14 (37 µg/m3), SV-15 (150 µg/m3), SV-16 (1.8 µg/m3), and SV-17 (16 µg/m3).  Soil vapor point SV-15 represents the highest concentration of TCE found along sewer lines located on the eastern portion of the South Hill sewer system.  Soil vapor point SV-15 was located directly above a lower portion of the sewer line originating at the Therm facility.  Soil vapor samples SV-13 and SV-14 were collected above the Columbia Street sewer lateral which is connected to both the Hudson Street sewer lines and the Therm sewer lines.  Soil vapor samples SV-16 and SV-17 were collected from directly above the sewer lines originating at Therm and were located closer to the facilities main sewer discharge line. (Report, p.17)

STRUCTURES RESULTS: SUB-SLAB AND INDOOR AIR

Sub-slab Vapor and Indoor Air Sampling Results (See Figures 10-A and 10-B.)

A number of CVOCs, including PCE, TCE, methylene chloride, and 1,1,1-TCA, were detected in both sub-slab vapor and indoor air samples collected from structures located within the study area.  A summary of concentration ranges and the frequency of detections are shown in the table below.  Additional CVOCs outlined in the introduction to Section 3 (1,2-DCA, cis-1,2-DCE, trans-1,2-DCE, and  vinyl chloride) are not included in the summary table based on detection frequencies below five percent.

VAPOR INTRUSION EVALUATION

USEPA
Method TO-15

Contaminants
of Concern

Concentration Range
Detected (µg/m3)

Frequency of Detectiona

VOCs

Methylene chloride

2.90 - 440

10/73

PCE

0.61 - 190

21/73

TCE

0.45 - 220

20/73

1,1,1-TCA

0.67 - 250

19/73

a Number of samples with concentrations exceeding the laboratory method detection limit.

Structure 06

Preliminary screening of two sub-slab vapor sampling points at Structure 06 was conducted during July 2008.  Initial sub-slab vapor sample results detected concentrations of PCE (2.4 µg/m3), TCE (2.8 J µg/m3, 1.2 µg/m3), and 1,1,1-TCA (13 J µg/m3).  As a follow-up to the July 2008 screening, two additional sub-slab vapor and two basement indoor air samples were collected in November 2008.  Sub-slab vapor and basement indoor air samples collected from Structure 06 during the November 2008 VI evaluation detected concentrations of methylene chloride above the NYSDOH air guideline of 60 µg/m3 which was developed to be protective of public health.  In addition, CVOCs including PCE, TCE, and 1,1,1-TCA were again detected in both sub-slab vapor and basement indoor air samples collected at the structure.  Structure 06 is connected to the Columbia Street sewer line between South Aurora Street and Turner Place.   

Structure 07

Basement indoor air samples were collected at Structure 07 during July and November 2008.  No sub-slab vapor samples were collected during either of the VI evaluations as there was no existing concrete slab.  Concentrations of TCE were detected in the basement air during both sampling events and ranged from 0.71 µg/m3 (July 2008) to 1.1 µg/m3 (November 2008).  Structure 07 is connected to the South Aurora Street/Danby Road sewer line between Hillview Place and Columbia Street.  

Structure 09

Sub-slab vapor samples were collected at Structure 09 during the VI preliminary screening event in July 2008.  Based on detections of PCE (190 µg/m3), TCE (63 µg/m3), and 1,1,1-TCA (250 µg/m3) in sub-slab vapor in July 2008, the structure was sampled again in November 2008 with both sub-slab vapor and basement indoor air samples being collected.   Consistent with the July 2008 analytical results, concentrations of PCE (110 µg/m3), TCE (49 µg/m3), and 1,1,1-TCA (190 µg/m3) were detected in the sub-slab vapor.  Methylene chloride was also detected in the sub-slab vapor sample at a concentration of 86 µg/m3 during the November sampling event.  The basement indoor air sample, collected in conjunction with the sub-slab vapor sample, also detected concentrations of PCE (10 µg/m3) and 1,1,1-TCA (34 µg/m3).  In addition, methylene chloride was detected in the basement indoor air sample above the NYSDOH air guideline of 60 µg/m3 at a concentration of 440 µg/m3.  Structure 09 is connected to the Columbia Street sewer line. 

Structure 10

Sub-slab vapor samples were collected from Structure 10 during the July 2008 preliminary screening event.  Sub-slab vapor concentrations of PCE (13 µg/m3), TCE (220 µg/m3), and 1,1,1-TCA (12 µg/m3) were detected in the sample.  Therefore, additional sub-slab vapor and basement indoor air sampling was conducted at Structure 10 during the November 2008 VI evaluation.  The November 2008 sub-slab vapor results were comparable to the July 2008 results with detections of PCE (2 µg/m3), TCE (61 µg/m3), and 1,1,1-TCA (1.6 µg/m3) being reported in the sample.
However, none of these compounds were detected in the basement indoor air sample.  Structure 10 is also connected to the Columbia Street sewer line.   

Structure 11

During the July 2008 preliminary screening sampling event, a sub-slab vapor sample was collected at Structure 11.  Analytical results of the sub-slab vapor sample revealed the detection of TCE (56 µg/m3) and an estimated concentration of 1,1,1-TCA (0.9 µg/m3).  Structure 11 was resampled during the November 2008 VI evaluation and included the collection of sub-slab vapor and basement indoor air samples.  Concentrations of TCE were reported in the sub-slab vapor sample at a concentration of 77 µg/m3 and in the basement indoor air sample at a concentration of 0.86 µg/m3.   No detection of 1,1,1-TCA was reported in either of these samples.  Structure 11 is connected to the Columbia Street sewer line. (Report, pp. 18-20)

The "Final Immediate Soil Vapor Investigation and Vapor Intrusion Summary Report" is 1447 pages long. If you want the entire 89 MB PDF file, click here. Otherwise, there are smaller PDF sections available below:

Cover Page
Report Text
Fig. 1 - Site Location
Fig. 2 - Study Area
Fig. 3 - Facility Locations and South Hill Neighborhood Sewer Lines
Fig. 4 - Soil Vapor Sampling Locations
Figs. 5-6 - Temporary and Permanent Soil Vapor Point Construction Diagrams
Fig. 7 - Vapor Intrusion Evaluation Structure Locations
Fig. 8 - Sub-Slab Vapor Point Construction Diagram
Fig. 9-A - Soil Vapor Sampling Results - Southern Portion of Sewer System
Fig. 9-B - Soil Vapor Sampling Results - Central Portion of Sewer System
Fig. 9-C - Soil Vapor Sampling Results - Northern Portion of Sewer System
Fig. 9-D - Soil Vapor Sampling Results - Eastern Portion of Sewer System
Fig. 10-A - Structure Sampling Results - January and April 2008
Fig. 10-B - Structure Sampling Results - July and November 2008
Tables 1-5 - Test Results Detail
App. A - Daily Field Reports
App. B - Soil Vapor Boring Logs
App. C - Soil Vapor Sampling Forms
App. D - Indoor Air Sampling Forms
App. E - Data Usability Summary Reports
App. F - Lab Data Forms, Custody Forms

Links to "Addendum Appendix G" - released in May 2010 are here.


"ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS REPORT" FOR SOUTH HILL SEWERS RELEASED

Though Emerson has gone to great effort to document the problems around the "NCR Sewer", there are similar problems along the sewer lines running from the plant site down Turner Place and down South Cayuga Street. EPT has not produced any plant records detailing just where the 1200 gallons per week of TCE (the estimated usage in the mid-1970s) went after they were used for degreasing operations. It would seem that some portion went down the sewers (whether intentionally or inadvertently) and some may have leaked into the shallow depths of glacial till and into the bedrock below it.

The test results along sewers all over South Hill show that there are still concentration of these toxins along and above the sewer lines. After all manner of very sophisticated tests involving ground penetrating radar and electrical resistivity and a lot of drill and analysis of boring samples, Emerson's consultants, WSP, released this document:
South Hill Sanitary Sewer Network Analysis Report (AAR)
which identifies various possible solutions which they considered.

Unfortunately, the report's recommendations are not very substantial or extensive: they propose to remove at 300-foot section of sewer line along East Spencer Street, starting at the intersection with Turner Place. It would be replaced with new sewer line, clean surrounding fill and a venting pipe to try to be sure that any lingering fumes around the sewer would be released to the air.

Despite evidence that the levels of toxins around and under the neighborhood homes vary over time, they seem to rule out blanket mitigation for homes around those which now have mitigation systems, and do not propose any steps for the sewer line from Columbia Street down to East Spencer, nor for the sewers along South Cayuga Street, even though these sewers have been referred to frequently as pathways for the toxins.

2010

HIGHER TEST LEVELS AROUND THERM SEWERS

The DEC has kindly provided a copy of the May 27, 2010 report by EA Engineering of Soil Vapor tests performed in April and November 2008 and September 2009, downhill from and around the Therm facility.  The most recent tests and newest test sites include the highest soil vapor concentrations yet found in this “Eastern Area” of the South Hill sewers.  Test point SV-19, just East of the end of Crescent Place, showed September 2009 levels of PCE (Tetrachloroethene) at 5000 ug/m^3, and TCE (Trichloroethene) at 450 ug/m^3.  These levels suggest that significant indoor air testing is needed to determine the extent of vapor intrusion into the neighborhood homes. 

The indoor air tests and subsequent activities are discussed in the "Therm" section.

 

   
Home  -   Maps   -   History   -   Science   -   Law   -   Actions   -   Contact Us   -   Thanks