Southeast portion of Newark also added to NPL list that allows federal funding for cleanup assistance

In a move approved by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to list the Hockessin Plume Contamination Site on the National Priorities List (NPL).

That allows the site to receive federal funding for ongoing, long-term cleanup through the federal Superfund program.

The contamination dates back to at least the 80s, with multiple sources believed to contribute to the presence of Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) perchlorethylene, a solvent used in dry cleaning and the automotive industry, in the groundwater beneath Hockessin.

The EPA will accept public comments on the proposed listing of the Hockessin site for a 60-day public comment period after the site has been placed on the federal register Jan 18, according to a press release. 

An online link will then be set up to collect public comments, the EPA states.

They will also schedule a public meeting during the comment period to explain details of the Hockessin site and proposed listing, likely in February, according to EPA.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the action ensures the necessary resources are available for effective and safe revitalization of some of the most contaminated sites across the country.

“Superfund clean-up continues to be a priority at EPA as we work intently to create a safer and healthier environment for all communities affected,” Pruitt said.

The site is one of four other national sites being Superfund listed, including another site in the southeast section of Newark, where tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) has been reported in low levels in public supply wells since 2000.

In both instances, public drinking water is treated to remove the contaminants so the water meets Federal and State Safe Drinking Water Act standards, the EPA states.

Supplier Artesian Water provides treatment at pumping sites and in-house for its customers, while private well owners must provide their own filtration systems.

In a statement from DNREC, Secretary Shawn Garvin said the agency is appreciative of the EPA’s action.

“Our partnership with the EPA, the Division of Public Health Office of Drinking Water, and Artesian Water in properly investigating and cleaning up this contaminated groundwater site ensures that drinking water in the area will continue to meet all state and federal standards and that precious groundwater resources will be protected,” Garvin said.

If the Hockessin site is approved for the listing, that brings the total number of NPL sites in Delaware to 23, 11 of which are located in New Castle County.

According to EPA representative Roy Seneca, the Hockessin site consists of roughly 32 acres along Route 41 through Hockessin, with numerous commercial, businesses, and residential properties. 

Two dry cleaners – Hockessin Cleaners and Sunrise Cleaners – are in the vicinity where historical operations continue to contribute to the groundwater contamination, the EPA said. 

“There may be other sources within the area as well,” the release states.