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Sleepy Hollow Sees Duracell Cleanup in 2011

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – About 78 Sleepy Hollow homeowners learned that their soil would need to be remediated because of pollution from the former Duracell battery plant in 2011.

Soil remediation will take place in spring 2012, Gillette Global External Relations Manager Kurt Iverson has said . Officials will continue testing soil and communicating with affected homeowners during the winter months.

The soil remediation process is the end result of more than 2,000 soil samples from 146 properties that Gillette-hired AECOM gathered and tested for possible pollution. The entire soil investigation found elevated mercury and lead levels in some properties, especially those close to the former plant.

Sleepy Hollow residents questioned why a soil remediation process done in the early '90s after the plant had closed didn't clean everything up. They also questioned why Gillette would only be removing mercury-laden soil at a higher cut-off point than the state recommends.

The site remedial goals for the area are 4.8 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg), although the New York Department of Health recommends cleaning up soils with concentrations of mercury above 1.2 mg/kg. The state residential soil cleanup objective for lead is 400 mg/kg.

“Why are we saying 4.8 parts per million as far as this program?” Elias Boumis asked officials at the public meeting. Boumis' parents live on Kendal Ave., which has been particularly affected by pollution from the plant.

“There's a reason for a guideline, so if I look up and it says 1.2, that's the threshold,” he said. “So why should we be treated any different?”

Soil remediation will probably start closest to the former plant and then move out in a logical fashion , Iverson said. Officials hope to keep the project at a manageable level so that there is as little impact as possible on residents in regards to noise and traffic, Iverson said.

Soil remediation consists of taking contaminated dirt away and bringing in new dirt. Iverson said landscaping would also be done to return everything to the way it looked before remediation.

Village officials are not involved directly with the cleanup, but Mayor Ken Wray urged residents who didn't get their soil tested the first time to reconsider.

“We'd like to see this get underway and the cleanup get done, but it all comes back to the health of our residents. I would urge anybody in the target area or if the target area is expanded, and who hasn't been tested, to be tested,” Wray said.

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