Cleanup project to install new water supply for properties contaminated by Durham Meadows Superfund Site

BOSTON – October 27, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — EPA has allocated $9 million to jump start cleanup activities at the Durham Meadows Superfund site in Durham, Conn. The funding will support the installation of an alternative water supply to the Superfund site area, serving over 100 residential and commercial structures, including Regional School District 13. Many of the homes and businesses to be connected have treatment systems or are being provided bottled water as a result of widespread groundwater contamination.

“This EPA funding will initiate the work to install the alternative water supply for the residents and businesses of Durham. We are excited that this means the important work to address groundwater contamination and ensure clean drinking water will begin next year,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “EPA appreciates the hard work and partnership of the Town of Durham, the City of Middletown, the Conn. Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), and the Conn. Dept. of Public Health to help EPA make this happen.”

“Moving this project forward brings us closer to a positive ending to a long and troubling saga for residents and businesses in this area,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “With federal and state funding now in place we are moving forward to provide safe drinking water to families and to clean chemical contamination that has remained in the ground for far too long.”

In the past, the Durham Manufacturing Company (operating) and the former Merriam Manufacturing Company polluted soil and groundwater with TCE and other chlorinated solvents in the area of Main Street in Durham. As a result, water in many private potable wells in Durham is unsafe to drink.

EPA, DEEP, DPH, the Town of Durham, and the City of Middletown have been working together for many years to provide temporary and permanent remedies for the homes with polluted wells. A public water main from Middletown to Durham will be the permanent remedy. EPA received $9 million for the federal fiscal year of 2015 to start construction of the water main. DEEP has received $3 million from the Bond Commission for the state’s cost share, as required by Superfund, to support construction of the water main and other remedial actions at the site. EPA and DEEP are happy to see this project moving forward.

“I made a commitment to the residents of the Town of Durham that bringing clean water to the contaminated areas within the Superfund would be a priority. Thanks to the dedication of our partners at EPA, DEEP, DPH and the City of Middletown, our residents will be assured of a clean and safe water supply,” said Town of Durham’s First Selectman, Laura L. Francis.

The Durham Meadows Superfund Site includes an area of groundwater contamination associated with past disposal practices at the Durham Manufacturing Co. and the former location of Merriam Manufacturing Co. In 1982, the Conn. Dept. of Environmental Protection (now the Conn. Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP)), detected volatile organic compounds (VOCs – commonly found in solvents, paints and degreasers) in private drinking water wells in the Durham Center area, including trichloroethylene (TCE).

Under a state order, the companies installed granular activated carbon filtration units on impacted residential wells. To date, 50 private wells serving 54 locations have found to be contaminated. These homes have water treatment systems to remove contamination. In 2005, EPA issued a Record of Decision outlining the cleanup action for the Site, including the extension of an alternate water supply from the City of Middletown Water Distribution System to address the overall area of Site-wide groundwater contamination. Since 2005, EPA has been developing the design for the water line with support from the Town of Durham, City of Middletown, CTDEEP, and CTDPH. EPA also completed the cleanup of the former Merriam Manufacturing Company property in 2012 and is working on the design to perform a cleanup at the Durham Manufacturing Company.

Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act, the law establishing the Superfund program. Superfund’s passage was a giant step forward in cleaning up hazardous waste sites to help ensure human health and environmental protection through long-term and short-term cleanup activities. Cleanups not only address environmental and human health threats, but often lead to positive economic benefits in the communities where cleanups occur including job creation and enhanced local tax bases.

More information:

Previous work to cleanup of the Durham Meadows Superfund Site (http://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0100108)

General information on Superfund program (http://www.epa.gov/superfund)

Contact: Jim Murphy, (617) 918-1028

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