Hazardous chemical found in landfill runoff

Water tests from a pipe that drains a New York landfill's runoff into a nearby river found high levels of PFOA.

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November 20, 2017
Waste Today Staff
Landfills Special and Hazardous Waste
Water tests conducted on a leak from a pipe that drains the Colonie Town Landfill in Cohoes, New York, into the Mohawk River revealed high levels of the industrial chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a report by the Times Union says. PFOA was also recently found in the drinking water supply at a small Rensselaer County village.

The tests showed PFOA levels at 68 parts per trillion (ppt), a few points below the drinking water standard of 70 ppt, the report says. The results were used by local officials to oppose a plan by the town of Colonie to double the size of the landfill along the Mohawk riverbank.

The town wants to expand the landfill into a 132-acre section that has already been capped. The report says the section, known as Area 7, includes hazardous waste brought to the landfill in the 1980s. Fifty acres of the site houses hazardous waste dump by Colonie. The report says the area does not include an underground liner and is considered an inactive hazardous waste site by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Opponents of the proposal say the extra weight from new waste could add pressure to the hazardous materials, causing them to leak into the groundwater and the river, according to the report.

PFOA is used to create nonstick and heat-resistant surfaces, the report says. Previous incidents of the chemical getting into the groundwater at the village of Hoosick Falls created new state drinking water standards.

Sterling Environmental Engineering, Latham, New York, conducted the tests and DEC spokesman Sean Mahar says in the report that the agency is reviewing results.