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State DEP: Deerfield water supply safe

Small amount of suspected carcinogen found during landfill groundwater test

The chemical 1,4-dioxane is suspected of coming from the area of Bar-Way Farm, a diary farm owned by Stephen Melnik, but the exact location is not definite, interim Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn explained. (Recorder file photo)

The chemical 1,4-dioxane is suspected of coming from the area of Bar-Way Farm, a diary farm owned by Stephen Melnik, but the exact location is not definite, interim Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn explained. (Recorder file photo)

DEERFIELD — A recent groundwater test by the town landfill on Lee Road showed small amounts of 1,4-dioxane, a commercial solvent and suspected human carcinogen.

But the town’s public water supply is not impacted, a spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection insisted.

“The water supply is not impacted. All the residents around the landfill are connected to town water. There’s been no exposure,” said DEP spokesperson Katherine Skiba.

The test found small amounts of 1,4-dioxane, which is a volatile organic compound found in some pesticides and farm materials. The chemical is suspected of coming from the area of Bar-Way Farm, a dairy farm owned by Stephen Melnik, but the exact location is not definite, interim Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn explained.

The town has two water districts, the South Deerfield Water District and Deerfield Water District, which are monitored frequently, Foxmyn said.

The town’s concern is that the landfill on Lee Road is within the potential plume of the chemical.

“We’re concerned with the groundwater around the landfill and any private wells,” Foxmyn said.

To determine where the chemical is coming from, the town has installed five new ground monitoring wells by Lee Road and the Stillwater area as a safety measure, Highway Director Shawn Patterson said.

Two wells are going by Melnik’s farm, one is going by the Deerfield River and two more are going by the town water supply.

“We’re 90 percent sure the leakage is going away from the town water supply,” Patterson said.

The wells would monitor any leakage, which could be from the landfill or old tobacco farms or Hurricane Irene flooding, Patterson said.

The leakage is in the direction toward the river.

To pay for the wells, the townspeople approved $85,000 in October to be used for engineering and monitoring well installation, drilling, and testing.

So far, the town has done three tests and all have come back clear, Patterson said.

For the past two months, the town has allowed the Melnik farm to hook up to the Deerfield water supply at a cost of $4,000 per month to the town.

By mid-December, the town put the farm back on its own well.

When a town closes a landfill, the state requires the town to place monitoring wells by the landfill to continually inspect possible contamination for 30 years. In 1997, the town closed the landfill.

Each year, the town has a contracted engineer test its groundwater by the landfill and file reports with the state. For years, the town has used Huntley Associates of Northampton. The town is now using Weston and Sampson after Huntley filed its report with the trace chemical six months late and did not notify the town.

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