The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled a treatment system that will remove contaminants from ground water near the Lawrence Aviation Inc., Superfund site in Port Jefferson, N.Y. The treatment system, the second EPA has installed to clean up contaminated ground water from the Lawrence Aviation site, is housed about one mile away from the Lawrence Aviation property. The ground water near the Lawrence Aviation site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds, potentially harmful chemicals that were used and disposed of at the site. EPA added the Lawrence Aviation Inc. site to the Superfund National Priorities list in 2000.

“The activation of this ground water treatment system is a major step toward cleaning up the legacy of pollution that resulted from the Lawrence Aviation Inc., Superfund site,” says EPA regional administrator Judith Enck. “EPA not only built the treatment system in an environmentally-sustainable manner, we also worked closely with local officials to ensure they had a say in its construction.”

The treatment system pumps contaminated ground water from nearby wells, and initially filters out sediments and debris. The water then is sent through a device that blows air into the water to remove some of the volatile organic compounds. The air and water then flow into carbon filters, where contaminants are collected and absorbed. Clean water then is released into the Old Mill Pond and Creek.

EPA broke ground on the treatment system facility in October 2010, and worked with local officials on the facility’s design. A local architectural firm assisted with the design of the facility, and EPA purchased some of the materials for the facility from local suppliers. EPA also used environmentally friendly materials when building the facility, including soy-based foam insulation, cork flooring and pervious pavement. The system will be operating for about 20 years in order to bring levels of volatile organic compounds to an acceptable level for protecting human health and the environment.

Founded in 1959, Lawrence Aviation Inc. was a manufacturer of titanium sheeting for the aeronautics industry. Past disposal practices and the presence of leaking drums at the site resulted in numerous violations cited by both the Suffolk County Department of Health Services and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In 1980 and 1981, the Department of Health Services required Lawrence Aviation Inc. to remove a number of drums of waste materials from the site. The drums contained the chemicals trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, as well as acids, waste sludge containing acid, salt wastes and hydraulic oils. They conducted a second removal in 1997.

Between September 2004 and April 2005, EPA conducted a cleanup action at the industrial portion of the site. This activity included the disposal of hundreds of drums of hazardous materials, the emptying and disposal of the contents of chemical storage vats, and the stabilization of other waste materials.  

The cost of the treatment system is approximately $ 2 million, and has been paid for by the Superfund. EPA is seeking to recover some of its costs from Lawrence Aviation Industries Inc. and its owner.