Contaminant found in well near landfill
November 11, 2005

Casella Waste Management announced at a meeting with residents Thursday that it had found a contaminant in one of the groundwater testing wells at the Chemung County landfill.

Larry Shilling, Casella's landfill district manager, said recent testing of groundwater wells near the clay-lined construction and demolition site at the landfill showed one contaminant above regulated levels.

While no one during the meeting identified the contaminant to the audience, Jerry Leone, regional engineer with Casella, said the contaminant is chloroethane.

The substance showed up in the water at a level of eight parts per 1 billion. The allowed level is five parts per 1 billion, Shilling said.

Chloroethane was once used in gasoline and is still used in refrigerants and the composition of some dyes, solvents and medicines, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.

The site says the substance can evaporate from landfills and exposure at high levels can cause a feeling of drunkenness. High levels also can cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and eye irritation, according to the CDC.

Gale E. Wolfe, director of environmental services for the county, said the contamination is at the action level, meaning the landfill operations must research the cause.

Leone said Casella will drill temporary testing wells near the contaminated well to determine whether the substance has spread.

Mary Knapp, 16, of Lowman, said she was surprised to hear Casella talk openly of contamination.

"It shows that there is leakage from the cells," Knapp said, adding that she fears there may be more contamination at more dangerous levels in and around the landfill.

"They (contaminants) are there, and they will always be a risk," she said.

Leone said he believes this is an isolated case caused by the extremely dry summer and the higher concentration of chloroethane in the water right now.

"There are more contaminants in a new car than what this is," he said.

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