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EPA Looks for TCE Source in Broad Run Farms

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has collected soil and ground water samples surrounding a Broad Run Farms landfill to determine if it is the source of Trichloroethylene (TCE) found in homeownersÕ wells.

Richard Doucette, waste program manager of the Northern Regional Office of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), said last week that the EPA contractor also sampled surface water from the Potomac River and homeownersÕ wells during the first week of October. It usually takes one month to analyze the samples and another month to perform data validation on them, he said.

Doucette said the EPA is using the site assessment to find out if hazardous substances are present and if they are, whether they are being released into the environment and to nearby homes. The findings would determine whether the EPA would have a role in the cleanup and who would be responsible financially for the cleanup.

Low levels of TCE, a carcinogen used to remove grease from metal parts, was found in 22 wells in the spring. Drinking water with small amounts of TCE over long periods of time can cause liver and kidney damage, impaired system function and impaired fetal development in pregnant women, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

STATE AND COUNTY officials suspect the Hidden Lane Landfill, which operated without a county permit from 1971 to 1984, is the source. It is adjacent to the Broad Run Farms community. The state and county were aware of two wells with TCE in 1989 and another six wells over the next 15 years, but did not begin widespread testing until this year, Loudoun environmental records show.

The contractor was not able to gather ground water sample directly from the landfill using a Direct Push Technology rig. ÒThe equipment we used was a track-mounted rig, about the size of a pickup,Ó Doucette said. ÒGiven the soil type, the depth of the bedrock and the size of the rig, it was too small to provide the pressure needed to push deep enough to collect ground water samples.Ó

If the recent samples identify the landfill as the source of TCE, a contractor likely will install ground water monitoring wells to decide the extent of contamination, he added.

The cost to install monitoring wells around the landfill will depend upon the depth of the ground water and the type of equipment used to install the monitoring wells.

Meanwhile, the DEQ installed filtration systems in 18 homes and set up a program to reimburse four homeowners who already had bought the systems. The four homeowners still have not received refunds.

Denise Mazzan complained that she has been waiting five months for a check. ÒImagine that. Now come on. I feel like IÕm being penalized,Ó she said, her voice rising. ÒThe saddest thing about this is the Health Department knew about this, didnÕt tell us about it, and weÕre being penalized.Ó

The county will be refunding $3,000 or half of what it cost her for her filtration system, Doucette said. ThatÕs the average cost of a system.

Virginia Brown said she learned three weeks ago that she would definitely be reimbursed. She is not concerned about the delay. ÒIÕm just glad they are going to reimburse me,Ó she said Monday.

Doucette said DEQ entered into a legal agreement with Loudoun so the department could give the county the money and make the reimbursements. ÒIÕm not quite sure why it took so long,Ó he said.

Allen Brewer, the Loudoun County Health Department's environmental health manager, said he thought three checks had been sent out and a fourth is awaiting confirmation for eligibility. He did not give a reason for the delay.

Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend described the refunds as a success, despite the delay. ÒFrom my perspective, É for the homeowners to get free filtration systems, it is a benefit for them and it points to the hard work of Supervisor [Bruce] Tulloch and others.Ó

DOUCETTE SAID the DEQ has been in contact with the owners of the property, Philip Smith and the estate of Albert Moran. The state will discuss who might be liable depending on the site test results. Doucette said the owners have been cooperative in providing access to the landfill.

Doucette said Loudoun County has conducted additional sampling along the perimeter of the known contamination. Brewer said the Health Department has not found any more homes that have been affected by the ground water contamination.

A stakeholders working group, comprised of health and environmental officials, county and state personnel and homeowners, has been formed to share information about the site assessment and other ongoing activities.

Eric DeJonghe, president of the Broad Run Farms Civic Association, said he believes efforts to resolve the problem are progressing Òreally well.Ó He asked for the results of the testing. ÒIÕm an average Joe though, so IÕm not sure if they are going to tell me,Ó he said.