Diaz Superfund Site
Diaz Chemical was a manufacturer of specialty organic intermediates for the agricultural, pharmaceutical, photographic, color and dye, and personal care products industries. The Diaz Chemical product line varied over the years of operation but primarily consisted of halogenated aromatic compounds and substituted benzotrifluorides. The Diaz Chemical facility has a long history of spills, releases and discharges of various materials to the environment that dates back to about 1975. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a plan to clean up contaminated soil and ground water at the Diaz Chemical Corporation Superfund site in Holley, New York. The soil and ground water are contaminated with volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, which can cause serious damage to people’s health. The EPA’s cleanup plan uses a technology to treat six areas of soil and ground water that continue to cause contamination of ground water in a broader area.
Holley is a village in the town of Murray in Orleans County, New York, United States. The population was 1,811 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Rochester Metropolitan Statistical Area.
There has been an ongoing cleanup for awhile since about 2002. To date, EPA has shipped over 8,000 drums and over 112,000 gallons of hazardous wastes off-site for reuse and/or disposal. Also, 105 reactor vessels and 34 storage tanks have been emptied and decontaminated. All vessels and tanks have been sent off-site for recycling and/or disposal. Over 51,000 linear feet of facility piping (accounting for 95% of the
existing piping) has been dismantled and removed.
Two water treatment systems are being presently operated and maintained. One system is for facility runoff water that enters the Village of Holley waste water treatment facility and the other system is for extracting and treating the on-site contaminated groundwater.
Diaz Chemical Corporation purchased the site in 1974 and began manufacturing specialty chemicals for the agricultural, pharmaceutical, photographic, color and dye and personal care products industries at the site. In January 2002, a safety valve at the facility ruptured, causing a release of a chemical mixture into the neighboring residential area. Area residents experienced sore throats, headaches, eye irritation, nosebleeds and skin rashes and some residents voluntarily relocated to temporary housing with assistance from Diaz Chemical.
In May 2002, after Diaz Chemical said that it could not continue to pay the costs of housing residents who remained relocated after the incident, the EPA assumed responsibility for the housing expenses. In June 2003, Diaz Chemical filed for bankruptcy and abandoned the facility, leaving behind large volumes of chemicals in drums and tanks.
The EPA then added the Diaz Chemical site to the Superfund list of the most contaminated hazardous waste sites in 2004.
The EPA will now treat the remaining soil and ground water in six areas using electrodes that will heat the soil and ground water, causing the contaminants to evaporate and turn into vapor and steam. The vapor and steam will then be collected and treated.
For contaminated ground water outside of the six sources of contamination, the EPA will rely on natural processes that allow the contaminants to disperse, dilute and degrade the ground water to meet federal cleanup levels. The plan also calls for the sale or transfer of the eight properties EPA purchased in 2005.
In this instance, the EPA has spent approximately $12 million to-date to clean up the Diaz Chemical site. The estimated total additional cost of the EPA’s plan is $14.5 million.
For further information see Diaz.
Superfund Sign image via Macalester College.