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American Thermostat Company
South Cairo, NY

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Larisa W. Romanowski (518) 407-0400
romanowski.larisa@epa.gov

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The eight-acre American Thermostat Company property, located in South Cairo, Greene County, New York, was used to manufacture thermostats for small appliances. In 1981, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation discovered that American Thermostat employees were improperly disposing of chemicals at the facility. Workers had been pouring waste organic solvents down drains attached to an abandoned septic system for a number of years and they had been dumping solvents and sludges onto the parking lot. State health personnel tested drinking water wells in the vicinity of the facility and found them to be contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene.

Under state orders, the owners agreed to clean up the property and its surroundings; provide, monitor, and maintain carbon filtration systems for the affected private wells; and supply bottled water for consumption by the affected residents. However, when the company went out of business in 1985, it stopped providing bottled water and abandoned the maintenance of carbon filtration systems at the affected homes. The State requested that the EPA sample other private wells near the site, provide bottled water and carbon filtration systems where necessary and take over the maintenance of the water treatment systems at the originally affected homes. In addition to undertaking the work requested by the State, the EPA also installed three air stripping systems at the facility. Air stripping involves pumping contaminated ground water into a pressurized vessel and then forcing a high pressure stream of air through the ground water, causing the pollutants to evaporate.

The EPA added the site to the Superfund National Priority List in June 1986.

A system of seven extraction and reinjection wells and a soil vacuum extraction system were installed at the site in 1989 for the purpose of accelerating the treatment of the ground water.

In January 1988, following the completion of a focused feasibility study to evaluate alternate water supplies, the EPA signed a Record of Decision (ROD) selecting a cleanup remedy that would assure a clean water supply for residents near the site. It included extending the existing Catskill water district pipeline to the affected and potentially affected areas. The construction of the water pipeline was completed in December 1992.

In 1990, following the completion of a remedial investigation and feasibility study to determine the nature and extent of the contamination and to evaluate cleanup alternatives, a ROD was signed selecting a cleanup remedy for the site. The actions selected to clean up the site included decontamination of the building located on the site, thermal treatment of the contaminated soil and air stripping and carbon adsorption for treatment of the contaminated ground water. Carbon adsorption is a treatment system that removes contaminants by forcing water through tanks containing carbon, which attracts and retains contaminants.

The decontamination of the building was completed in December 1992, the soil cleanup was completed in December 1996 and the construction of the ground water extraction and treatment system was completed in August 1998. After operating the ground water management system for 10 years as a long-term response action, in October 2008, the State assumed responsibility for its operation and maintenance.

Under Superfund, the EPA conducts reviews every five years to ensure that the implemented clean up at sites are functioning as intended and continue to be protective of human health and the environment. The EPA issued five-year review reports for the American Thermostat site in September 2003, August 2008 and December 2013. The 2008 report recommended that, because of nationwide concerns regarding intrusion of organic contaminant vapors from ground water into residences in the vicinity of Superfund sites, a vapor intrusion survey be conducted at nearby residences. A residential vapor intrusion investigation was performed in March 2011. Based upon the results of this effort, a recommendation was made that a sump in one residence be covered because sump water showed the potential to be a source of contaminant vapors. The sump was covered in late winter 2013. The December 2013 five-year review report concluded that the site is protective of human health and the environment in the short term. For the site to be protective in the long-term, ongoing chemical and hydraulic monitoring needs to be completed and data needs to be collected during the 2014/2015 heating season at the residence where the sump was covered to ensure that the action was effective. The next five-year review will be performed before December 2018.


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