TCE Strikes again


Groundwater test complicates Ithaca Gun cleanup

Tests suggest TCE moving below ground

 
Jun. 13, 2013   |  
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20130613_Ithaca_Gun_Monitoring_sw

 
A monitoring well, lower left, on the east side of Lake Street near the intersection with Lincoln Street, showed trichloroethylene at levels of 6 parts per billion in the groundwater. The contamination appears to be moving downhill from the former Ithaca Gun site.  /  SIMON WHEELER / STAFF PHOTO

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David Hill
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A monitoring well on the east side of Lake Street near the intersection with Lincoln St, showed trichloroethylene, known as TCE, at levels of 6 parts per billion in the groundwater. The contamination appears to be moving downhill from the former Ithaca Gun site.  /  SIMON WHEELER / STAFF PHOTO
 

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ITHACA — Bolstered by a recent $200,000 federal grant, the city is close to seeking bids for the next cleanup of its part of the former Ithaca Gun site, but new concerns about migrating groundwater contamination will likely complicate the rehabilitation of the property.

The city will need approval of the state Department of Environmental Conservation on specific plans, but the bids from cleanup contractors may be sought and a contract awarded in July, according to Nels Bohn, community development director of the city’s Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency.

The immediate cleanup addresses lead in the soil of a narrow L-shaped strip between the Gun Hill Residences parking lot and the land on which the former gun factory itself stood.

The EPA spent $4.8 million on a project between 2002-04 to remove lead from portions of the property. But not all of the site has been remediated, and testing by activist Walter Hang and The Journal in 2006 found portions still contained high levels of lead and arsenic.

The city has obtained state grants, including $200,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to pay for the cost of the next round of remediation. Whether the grants will cover all the costs won’t be known until bids arrive from contractors. The city hopes to turn a part of the site into a small park overlooking Ithaca Falls.

Ithaca developer Frost Travis owns the adjacent factory site proper and plans to build about 50 condominiums after performing the cleanup. Travis is also contributing to the local share of the cleanup costs.

The immediate objective is remediation in a portion of the L-shaped strip that abuts Lake Street known as the western accessway. It’s known to be contaminated at levels exceeding safety standards and is in a form and location that could expose people to hazards, mostly lead from the gun factory days.

But lead is not the only known contaminant.

A May report from consultant Barton & Logudice of Syracuse said that one of several test wells into the groundwater level detected trichloroethylene, known as TCE, downhill from the immediate cleanup area. Further testing is needed, but a monitor is expected to be installed later this summer.

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