Delaware Public Media

Contamination at Newark Groundwater Plume Site could be investigated by EPA

Jul 31, 2017

A polluted groundwater site in Newark could receive funding for clean-up from the Environmental Protection Agency.



City and state officials aren’t sure how the Newark South Groundwater Plume Site got contaminated. They’re hoping funding from the EPA could help them look into it.


Newark’s Water Operation Superintendent Mark Neimeister said Newark treats its groundwater by blowing air over cascading water. That helps evaporate volatile organic compounds —organic compounds found in some industrial and commercial products that can negatively effect human health.


“For us, it’s kind of business as usual. We’ll continue to treat the water and ensure it’s safe to drink,” Neimeister said.


They’ve been treating it this way since 2003.


Newark has six municipal wells in the area where the groundwater has been affected by contamination. Kelly Bachman, a spokeswoman for Newark, said the city has worked with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Division of Public Health Office of Drinking Water for nearly two decades to maintain safe drinking water for the city, making sure it meets federal and state drinking water standards.


If the Newark South Groundwater Plume Site gets listed on the EPA’s National Priorities List to get funding, that could help them figure out what’s contaminating the groundwater.

They would use Superfund authority and resources to work with Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to find the problem, said Charlie Root, the chief of the Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia Remedial Branch for EPA region 3. 


“EPA and the state both want to make sure groundwater can be used for its most beneficial use. Usually the most beneficial use is drinking water — either by private wells or public wells,” Root said. 


According to DNREC, state investigations have been limited into the site as funds from Delaware’s Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act have been “reduced significantly.” 


"We are pleased that EPA's proposed National Priorities Listing for the Newark South Ground Water Plume site enables us to further our efforts to better understand the extent of ground water contamination in the Newark area," DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin said. "We continue partnering with EPA to address historical contamination in the area as we work to protect and restore Delaware’s precious ground water resources.”


There will be a 60-day public comment period before Newark’s site can be included on the EPA’s National Priorities List.


EPA will hold a public information session and presentation on the EPA's Superfund process and provide help on how to submit comments from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15 at the Newark Senior Center, 200 White Chapel Dr., Newark, DE 19713.