The Environmental Protection Agency will be drilling a series of exploratory holes throughout the village during the summer in order to locate the source of a toxic plume in the area.
The EPA is searching for contamination from a compound known as Trichloroethylene (TCE), which was used as a metal degreaser in auto shops.
“It’s very vigorous, it’s used by many people,” said Kevin Willis, the EPA project manager during a meeting of the on June 20 at . “People have used these degreasers for 100 years and it’s gotten into the aquifer over the course of time because back in the day it wasn’t something anybody worried about.”
The plume was first discovered in contaminated ground during a separate search for a plume for a similar chemical in New Hyde Park. Crews were on Fulton Avenue by Gold’s Gym near the in Garden City Park. According to Willis, the newly discovered plume had gotten up to Herricks Road and crews would start sampling at that location on June 25.
“We’re expecting it to be considerably further east but we have to keep following the line that we’ve seen so far,” he said.
The chemicals were only begun to be regulated about 20 years ago and according to Willis could either be the result of an old tank or a spill. The new investigation started north of Jericho on Denton Avenue and went east to Herricks Road.
“They’re just sniffing around right now, we’re out of a contamination zone,” Mayor Scott Strauss said. “They’re just looking at getting some samples, strictly precautionary, they’re just looking for things, we’re not contaminated, I don’t want to panic anybody.”
The village’s water supply shows no signs of contamination and is .
Currently the EPA is looking for the source of the plume, searching by drilling for core samples.
“We’re hoping to find it,” Willis said, noting the contamination was first discovered 400 ft. deep in the aquifer in New Hyde Park as part of an investigation much further south and on the edge of the study area.
The EPA began testing on June 25 taking ground samples east of Herricks Road and south of Hillside Avenue. The samples are collected by boring small holes in the utility strip – the grassy area between the sidewalk and curb.
Samples would be taken via a hydropunch – a dual-track machine with a 12-ft. boom that drives a one-inch diameter rod into the ground about 100 ft. deep through the utility strip. The sample is taken and then the hole is backfilled with clay.
The local company which would be conducting the drilling is Aquifer Drilling and Testing while the contractor is HDR. Up to 150 holes or core samples would be drilled in Mineola. According to Willis, the state department on environmental conservation drilled 300 holes but found nothing “that’s why they kept moving east.”
One crew worked gathering samples for the first two weeks, then two crews would work from mid-July onward. Drilling would be done every day, though not continuously. The drilling rig will be at one location for the majority of the day, then move a few hundred feet away. Workers would then place caps and markers and have the hole filled up with clay.
“They’re checking with everybody whether eight or 9 (a.m.) is allowable because this is a rather noisy operation,” Willis said of the crews. “So whenever we can, we will.”
Crews would start on Herricks Road then move to Mineola Boulevard then over to Roslyn Road and Glen Cove Road. Willis said that the crews would “always” test around gas stations.
“It’s wherever the work takes us,” he said. “”if we eventually get to the point, we’ll drill wells but that’s way in the future. It’s once we start finding that we’re getting very close to the source.”
The entire process could take “several months” according to Willis. “We’re starting out simply so we can do this quickly. If we find something than we’ll do some things that might be a little more intrusive like wells, but then we’re near a source area.”