By Desirée Taylor
A long awaited cleanup and demolition project is scheduled to begin on Oct. 8 at a Garfield Superfund site. The building, located at 125 Clark St., is contaminated with hexavalent chromium that is reaching the basements of some area residences and businesses through the ground water. Hexavalent chromium is extremely toxic, may cause cancer and can cause nervous system damage.
One reason for the contamination in the area was a spill that occurred back in 1983 at the site. Less than two years later, state environmental officials allowed the owners, E.C. Electroplating, to suspend clean up before removing all of the chromium. “Obviously they thought it was remediated,” said Neil Norrell, the EPA’s on-scene coordinator. “They may not have realized the bigger problem was inside.”
The EPA has been studying 740 properties in the area. So far “unacceptable” levels of hexavalent chromium have been detected in more than a dozen homes. A health study conducted by the state found the cancer rate in the area was not unusually high. And EPA officials say the drinking water has been tested and it’s not contaminated.
The EPA has established a network of groundwater monitoring wells to determine the extent of chromium contamination in the ground water. This in-depth investigation will allow the EPA to determine how best to clean up chromium contaminated groundwater.