By ecoRI News staff
DURHAM, Conn. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has allocated $9 million to jump-start clean-up activities at the Durham Meadows Superfund site. The funding will support the installation of an alternative water supply serving more than 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.
The still-in-operation Durham Manufacturing Co. and the former Merriam Manufacturing Co. polluted soil and groundwater with trichloroethylene (TCE) and other chlorinated solvents in the area of Main Street. As a result, water in many private potable wells in Durham is unsafe to drink.
TCE is a colorless or blue liquid with a chloroform-like odor. Studies have found the volatile organic compound (VOC) to be carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure and poses a potential health hazard for non-cancer toxicity to the central nervous system, kidney, liver, immune system and the male reproductive system.
EPA, the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), the state Department of Public Health, the town of Durham and the city of Middletown have been working together for 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.
The Durham Meadows Superfund site includes an area of groundwater contamination associated with past disposal practices at both companies.
In 1982, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection — now called the DEEP — detected VOCs, including TCE, commonly found in solvents, paints and degreasers in private drinking water wells.
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 decision outlining the clean-up action for the site, including the extension of an alternate water supply from the Middletown Water Distribution System. EPA also completed the cleanup of the former Merriam Manufacturing Co. property in 2012 and is working on the design to perform a cleanup at the Durham Manufacturing Co.