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The Preferred Plating Corporation Site, which is on the United States Environmental Protection Agency National Priorities List, is in East Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York. The facility operated as a metal finishing plant between 1951 and 1976 and discharged waste water to four on-site leaking holding tanks during those years of operation. The site presented a public health hazard in the past because of documented human exposures to chromium in non-residential private wells including a small U.S. Army base. However, these wells have been abandoned and public water now supplies the affected properties. Currently, the site presents no apparent public health hazard as long as the planned remedial measures are taken. There are no known human exposures to contaminants at levels of concern for human health. Subsurface soil underneath the building on-site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds and metals and groundwater on-site is contaminated with metals. The subsurface soil serves as a continuing source of contamination to the groundwater. Existing groundwater contamination could, if no remedial actions were taken, eventually contaminate Suffolk County Water Authority public drinking water supply wells and a private well. However, remedial design work required under two Record of Decisions by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) will reduce groundwater contamination, remove contaminated soil, and prevent further off-site migration of site-related contaminants. One remedial design calls for pumping contaminated groundwater, treating the water by removing metals and volatile organic compounds, and reinjecting the treated water into the ground. The second remedial design calls for excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated soil. No off-site remedial actions are currently planned.

Recommendations for this site include implementing the remedial measures of on-site groundwater treatment and removal of contaminated soil on-site. In addition, the private well which serves a commercial building downgradient of the site should either be abandoned and the building hooked up to public water or the well should be monitored. The monitoring will alert the NYS DOH if contaminant concentrations in the well water rise to levels of concern. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Health Activities Recommendation Panel does not recommend any follow-up health actions for this site. However, the NYS DOH and ATSDR will contact the U.S. Army to determine if the persons exposed in the past can be located, and will provide them with a copy of this public health assessment. The US EPA will implement the remedial measures for on-site groundwater and subsurface soils.


A. Site Description and History

The Preferred Plating Corporation site is in the Hamlet of East Farmingdale, Town of Babylon, Suffolk County, New York. The 0.5 acre site is in a light industrial area. The property is bordered to the north by a vacant wooded lot, to the south by Allen Boulevard, and on the east and west by other industrial buildings (Appendix B, Figure 1). The buildings and paved areas cover about 90 percent of the property. Storm water from the parking lot and building drain into storm drains in the parking lot. Storm water which is collected percolates into the surrounding soil through on-site and off-site subsurface dry-wells (Appendix B, Figure 2). The site is almost flat and is at an elevation of 58 feet above mean sea level. Massepequa Creek is 6,000 feet to the west of the site.

The Preferred Plating Corporation operated a plating and metal finishing business at the site from 1951 to 1976. The company cleaned, degreased and surface-finished metal parts. Chemicals such as metal salts, acids, and organic solvents were used in the facility. The used solutions and waste water were discharged to four on-site waste water holding tanks. The tanks were about 15 by 45 feet long, were 11 feet deep, and had a holding capacity of about 5,400 gallons. Sanitary wastes were discharged to on-site leaching pits.

In 1953 the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SC DHS) detected concentrations of hexavalent chromium up to 8 milligrams per liter in the Preferred Plating industrial water well. Between 1953 and 1958 other nearby industrial wells and a well serving a small US Army Base were also found to be contaminated with chromium. The SC DHS subsequently pursued legal action to require Preferred Plating to upgrade its wastewater treatment facilities. A discharge permit was issued to Preferred Plating in 1975; however, the company was never completely in compliance with the permit. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1976 and ceased operations. The property was sold in 1982 and the new owners filled the waste water holding tanks and expanded the buildings, covering the filled holding tanks. The sanitary waste was connected to the regional sanitary sewer in 1982, and no other discharge points exist. The property is privately owned and other businesses have occupied the building space since Preferred ceased operations. These subsequent businesses did not do metal finishing.

The Preferred Plating Corporation site was added in 1986 to the National Priorities List (NPL), the nation's official register of hazardous waste sites. A Preliminary Health Assessment was prepared in June 1989 by the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) under a cooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) was done by EBASCO Inc., under contract with United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the report was released in July 1989 (EBASCO, 1989a,b). Remedial Investigations (RI) are usually done after any initial site investigation which may be done by Town, County, State and/or federal agencies. The initial investigations identify the presence of hazardous wastes and determine that the wastes could pose a significant threat to public health and/or the environment. The RI is carried out to determine the nature and extent of chemical contamination in soil, water, and air. The Feasibility Study (FS) uses RI information to develop alternative remedial actions that will reduce or eliminate the threat to public health or the environment posed by the site. Results from the RI indicated that the groundwater on-site contains elevated concentrations of metals and volatile organic compounds.

The Feasibility Study proposed to pump contaminated groundwater and treat it to remove metals and volatile organic compounds. Treated water will be reinjected upgradient of the site. A Record of Decision for groundwater treatment was signed on September 22, 1989. The Record of Decision is a document which presents the remedial action for a site and the information and rationale used to arrive at the decision. An additional Remedial Investigation was conducted by Malcolm Pirnie, Inc. under contract with the US EPA. This investigation studied the unsaturated and seasonally saturated soil underneath the building, including materials in the waste storage tanks. A Remedial Investigation report was submitted in May 1992 (Malcolm Pirnie, 1992b) and a draft Feasibility Study was submitted in April 1992 (Malcolm Pirnie, 1992c). A public meeting was conducted on August 5, 1992 to discuss the proposed remedial actions for the soil underneath the building. A Record of Decision was signed on September 28, 1992 for excavation and off-site treatment and disposal of contaminated soil. A third Remedial Investigation was conducted by Geraghty and Miller, Inc. under contract with the US EPA. The RI report was issued in July 1993 and focused on possible sources of contamination upgradient from the Preferred Plating site. The upgradient source was determined to not be a significant source of contamination and the US EPA proposed no further action for the site. A public meeting was held on August 10, 1993 and the Record of Decision was issued in October 1993.

B. Actions Taken During the Public Health Assessment Process

The NYS DOH and the SC DHS surveyed the area downgradient of the site to determine if private wells were present. Two wells were identified, one which served a private residence and was abandoned in 1992 and one which serves a business building and is still being used. The two wells were sampled by the SC DHS in 1991 and 1993, respectively.

C. Site Visit

New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) staff member Kim Mann inspected the site in January 1985, and staff member Donald Miles visited the site in July 1989. In addition, Donald Miles and Maureen Schuck of NYS DOH visited the site on January 28, 1992. No evidence of surface contamination or potential exposure routes were observed during the site visits. As observed during the site visit, the site is a narrow building and parking lot between two adjacent narrow buildings. To the west, a fence connects the front of the two buildings, restricting access to the narrow unpaved weedy area between the buildings. There was no restriction to access to the parking lot, however, the property was fenced along the north side. The fences were about 6 feet tall and in good condition. The site building and parking lot were being actively used by the commercial-industrial tenants of the building. No visible staining of soil or paved areas was observed and no waste containers other than normal refuse containers were observed. No physical or other hazards were observed.

D. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural Resource Use

The site is in a light industrial and commercial area. Residential areas are about 1000 feet to the south. Vacant wooded property is north of the site. NYS DOH estimated, from the 1990 Census, 12,325 people living within 1 mile of the Preferred Plating site. Of this population, 71 percent is of the white race, 24 percent is of the black race and 4 percent is of other races (Census 1990a). The Preferred Plating site is within census tract 1232.01 in which 8.13 percent of the population is under 5 years of age, 22.6 percent is 5-19 years of age, 62.0 percent is 20-64 years of age and 7.3 percent is 65 years or older (Census 1990b). The median household income in 1989 for this census tract was $46,776 with 4.7 percent of the families with income below the poverty level (Census 1992).

The site is almost completely paved; the remainder of the site is landscaped. The primary natural resource at the site is the underlying groundwater aquifers. The Upper Glacial Aquifer is immediately below the site from the water table level to about 90 feet deep. The water table fluctuates seasonally from about 10 to 20 feet below the surface. The Magothy Aquifer underlies the Upper Glacial and is about 1,000 to 2,000 feet thick. In some areas of Suffolk County, the Gardiners Clay geologic formation separates the Upper Glacial Aquifer from the Magothy Aquifer. This formation forms a hydrologic barrier which restricts the movement of contaminants from the Upper Glacial to the Magothy Aquifer. Although it is not known whether the Gardiners Clay is present under the site, it has been detected both north and south of the site.

The surrounding businesses and residences are served by public water. The well survey done by NYS DOH and SC DHS found one property in the area which was not hooked up to public water supplies and was using a private well. Public water supplies in the area are provided from wells tapping the Magothy Aquifer. A public water supply wellfield is about one-mile southeast of the Preferred Plating site, and is in the general direction of groundwater flow from the site. There are no other known uses of the groundwater for potable water supplies in the area.

E. Health Outcome Data

The New York State Department of Health maintains several health outcome data bases which could be used to generate site specific data, if warranted.


A review of NYS DOH files and contact with the SC DHS has not revealed any concerns expressed by the public specifically regarding this site. No public health concerns were raised at the public meetings conducted by the US EPA on August 5, 1992 or on August 10, 1993. NYS DOH staff member Donald Miles attended the meeting in 1992, staff of the SC DHS attended the 1993 meeting. The SC DHS has expressed concern for the site because of the need to protect the quality of the underlying aquifers which supply the water needs of the surrounding communities. The department is concerned that site-related chemicals may migrate towards and contaminate nearby public water supply wells and the private well. The department is also concerned that off-site groundwater contamination has not been adequately defined.

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