Delaware Public Media

EPA furthering cleanup efforts at New Castle superfund site

May 4, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency is continuing cleanup efforts at a contaminated New Castle industrial waste landfill site, now designating the site as needing more immediate efforts.


The EPA says more work needs to be done to remove contamination at the 27-acre Delaware Sand & Gravel Landfill Superfund site, more than 30 years after cleanup first started there. They've placed the site on the Emphasis List of Superfund sites.


Part of the work planned for the site includes installing groundwater extraction wells and discharging extracted groundwater to Wilmington’s wastewater treatment plant, said Debra Rossi, EPA’s remedial project manager for the site.


“The objective of the additional work is to protect human health by preventing exposure to unacceptable levels of contamination in drinking water and indoor air, also to effectively control source areas at the site and finally to restore groundwater to drinking water standard,” Rossi said.


Last December, EPA issued a record of decision for a new remedy there, Rossi said. It was particularly important because of nearby public water supply wells affected from toxic releases.


Those wells belong to Artesian Water, which welcomes the EPA’s additional efforts. The company has been worried about the site’s threats to their customers’ drinking water. 


Artesian’s Executive Vice President Joe DiNunzio said in 2000, Artesian had to install carbon to treat the well water because of a substance called BCEE that traveled from the superfund site to some of their wells.


They also saw a substance called 1,4-Dioxane, and had to install an advanced oxidation process to treat the water.


“Over the decades we have spent tens of millions of dollars on water treatment and of course the ongoing operating expense for that treatment so we can ensure our customers a safe source of supply,” DiNunzio said.


DiNunzio says it’s hard to say how many customers bore the cost of increased water rates as Artesian worked to treat problems over the years. 

With increased federal cleanup efforts, Artesian is hopeful they’ll see some financial relief.


The estimated cost of the cleanup is $46 million.