On April 22, 2004, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) notified EPA Region 1 of an ongoing oil release which was threatening the Far Mill River, Isinglass Reservoir (potable water), and the Housatonic River. The DEP had initially responded on April 14 to a release of oil to a private pond and an unnamed brook which connects the pond to the Far Mill River. Upon investigation, the DEP and the local fire department traced the oil to a catch basin system on Sorel Drive and eventually to a residence at 31 Sorel Drive. The homeowner refused to accept responsibility which prompted the DEP to access their spill fund.
EPA On Scene Coordinator (OSC) Gary Lipson responded to the site on April 23 and met with the DEP and home owner. Actions taken to that point were limited to taking the 550 gallon UST off line, placing sorbent boom and pads into the private pond, pumping out the Sorel Drive catch basins, and placing additional sorbent boom into the catch basins.
On April 26, the OSC spoke with the DEP who reported that heavy rain over the weekend forced additional oil out of the ground and had once again filled the catch basins and re-entered the pond. The OSC and DEP agreed that subsurface investigative work was necessary to delineate the plume so oil recovery could begin.
On April 27, OSC Lipson was on-site with the DEP while holes were driven into the lower section of the lawn and into the street via a Geoprobe, surrounding the initial catch basin. Once free product was encountered in one of the driven Geoprobe holes, a pit was excavated in that area where a pool of oil and a PVC drain pipe extending under the road was found. The free product was sucked out of the pit and a frac tank was mobilized to begin collecting the oil on a longer term basis. The OSC served the homeowner a Notice of Federal Interest.
On April 28, the DEP began excavating a trench in the road following the PVC pipe and flowing oil. The trench led to the base of the driveway where the oil was apparently flowing from the rear of the house, beneath the driveway. Once the trench was excavated, free product and oily water were pumped from the trench into the frac tank.
On April 29, the UST was pulled from the ground and another pool of oil was encountered which was also pumped to the frac tank. Additionally on April 29, free product was pumped from the frac tank for disposal and the oily water was pumped through a temporary carbon filter system. The effluent was tested and released to the catch basins.
Based on the substantial threat to navigable waters, the EPA OSC opened up a Federal Project Number (FPN) with the USCG Nation Pollution Fund Center (NPFC) and after agreeing on a Scope of Work (SOW) with the DEP, entered into a Pollution Removal Funding Authorization (PRFA) with the State on 5/4/04. Since this release threatened a navigable waterway (catch basins to the pond to an unnamed brook to the Far Mill River to a water reservoir to the Housatonic River) the state via the PRFA would be eligible for reimbursement for certain removal costs from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
Over the following month, DEP contractor personnel continued to excavate contaminated soils in the roadway in front of the residence and installed a recovery and treatment system. Product recovery wells were set into town owned property in the street in front of the residence and into the tank grave in the rear of the house.
Due to State regulations, the DEP was required to place the remainder of the project out to bid once 60 days passed since the emergency contractor was hired.
Due to poor performance of the recovery system, DEP's new contractor upgraded the system. Some of the wells were reset, new wiring and some new piping was installed, and a new electrical panel and controls were mounted. Groundwater pumping continued until December 4, 2004 at which time the system was winterized. Power was turned off, the lines and tank were drained, and the carbon units were vacuumed out. Fresh absorbent boom was placed into the catch basins. During the spring and summer of 2005, the groundwater was regularly checked by the DEP.
Based on the analytical data and visual observance of the groundwater being recovered by the in-place system during 2005, the DEP and EPA have recently concluded that there is no longer a source of free product and the recovery system can be removed from the ground.
The DEP will have their contractor remove the recovery system and complete any necessary restoration of the property.
The OSC is reviewing the DEP cost documentation package and will be forwarding the package with his recommendation for reimbursement to the NPFC.