EPA proposes 'innovative' cleanup for Romic site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing “an innovative biological treatment process” to clean up the soil andgroundwater at the site of Romic Environmental Technology Corp.'s East Palo Alto hazardous waste facility.

The 14-acre bay front facility at 2081 Bay Road was ordered permanently closed by the state Department of Toxic Substances Control on Aug. 30 following its investigation of a June 2006 chemical release and three

incidents when employees were burned in 2004, 2006 and on Aug. 1 of this year.

“There's no immediate health risk to the public in regards to soil and groundwater contamination,” DTSC spokeswoman Angela Blanchette said Tuesday. “The groundwater at the site is not used as a source of drinking water for the community,” she added.

According to the EPA, the area has been contaminated with dry cleaning and carburetor cleaning chemicals and paint thinners.

“The proposed remedy incorporates an innovative biological treatment process to clean up the soil and groundwater,” according to Nancy Lindsay, a director of waste programs for the EPA. “This method is

cost-effective and importantly, requires less energy then traditional pump and treat remedies,” Lindsay said.

The biological treatment involves using cheese whey and molasses to feed microbes already present in the soil and groundwater, which then break contaminants down into carbon dioxide, water and salt, according to the EPA.

The EPA also plans to excavate some of the soil and restrict future use of the site to only commercial and industrial projects, EPA spokesman Dean Higuchi said.

Romic has been ordered to pay for the cleanup, Higuchi said, but a decision on what method to use is still forthcoming. The current favored proposal is estimated to cost approximately $2.5 million and take seven to

nine years to complete, he said.

EPA officials are seeking public comment on their proposal and have scheduled an Oct. 10 public meeting and hearing at City Hall in East Palo Alto. The meeting takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Public comment can also be sent to EPA Project Manager Ron Leach, WST-5, 75 Hawthorne St., San Francisco, CA 94105; by fax at (415) 947-3530; or by e-mail to leach.ronald@epa.gov.

The public comment deadline is Nov. 1. A final cleanup decision by the EPA is expected early next year.

— Bay City News

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