From 1954 to 1985, American Thermostat Corporation built thermostats for small appliances at this 8-acre site in South Cairo. Located in the Catskill Creek Valley, the site and much of the nearby community are bordered by Routes 23 and 23B. The company was the only manufacturer in the vicinity, which is a popular tourist and residential area. In 1981, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation discovered that American Thermostat employees were improperly disposing of chemicals at the site. Workers had been pouring waste organic solvents down drains attached to an abandoned septic system for a number of years, and they had been dumping solvents and sludges on the parking lot. State health personnel tested wells in the vicinity of the site and found them to be contaminated with trichloroethylene (TCE) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including tetrachloroethylene (PCE). The company, subsequently, installed carbon filters on its own well and on those of four affected homes. The home located next to the plant was hooked up to the company's water supply. The company ceased operations in 1985 and filed involuntary bankruptcy without completely fulfilling an agreement with New York State with regard to site cleanup. Approximately 5,000 people live within a 3-mile radius of the site in low-density residential areas. Until a waterline was installed to protect the public from exposure to the contaminated ground water, all homes within two miles of the site used private wells. Catskill Creek, less than 1/4 mile east of the site, is classified as a trout stream and has considerable recreational value to local and visiting fishermen.