LANESBOROUGH -- The Rose Disposal Pit on Balance Rock Road is one of 27 Superfund sites in New England where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this year will be conducting a five-year review of previously completed cleanup and remediation work.
This is the third five-year review that the agency has conducted at the pit, which was a GE dump site in the 1950s.
"It's just standard procedure," said U.S. EPA spokesman Jim Murphy. "We go out and try and evaluate if there's anything that requires us to do any monitoring or cleanup."
The federal agency conducts these evaluations at Superfund sites every five years to determine if the remedies that were implemented are still effective. The evaluations also are used to identify any deficiences in the previous work conducted at those sites, and to provide recommendations for further action if problems are found.
Ten of the 27 sites slated for five-year reviews this year are located in Massachusetts, but the Rose Disposal Pit is the only Western Massachusetts location. Three of the six sites in Vermont slated for five year reviews are located in Bennington County. There are 118 total Superfund sites in New England, according to the U.S. EPA.
The Rose Disposal Pit is a one-acre waste disposal area that is part of a 14-acre residential lot that borders Balance Rock State Park. Waste oils and solvents from the General Electric Co. were dumped in an open trench on that site between 1951 and 1959, according to the agency.
Following an inspection in 1980, the state Department of Environmental Quality Engineering discovered 15,000 cubic yards of soil on the site that were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyl's (PCBs), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Two plumes of contaminated groundwater were found to be moving to the east into the park, and to the south and were being carried off by a nearby unnamed stream.
Chemicals were found in downgradient drinking water wells, which caused concern because 100 people live within a mile of the site.
In 1984, the EPA issued a joint enforcement order that required GE to clean up the site. GE has completed the cleanup work in 1994, which included the excavation and on-site incineration of 51,000 tons of contaminated soil and sediment that was excavated below the water table.
The groundwater continues to be monitored and will be until drinking water standards are set, according to the U.S. EPA.
In 2008, GE purchased a three-acre parcel that abuts the Rose Disposal Pit from a family trust for $300,000. At the time, a GE spokesman said the company decided to purchase the parcel after its remaining owner died, and would continue to monitor the ground water and soil.
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