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County’s Nastiest Sites Harbor Few Prospects

June 15, 2008

By Aaron Besecker, The Buffalo News, N.Y.

Jun. 15–The outlook appears promising for some brownfield sites in Niagara County, but the redevelopment of several may not happen for a long time, if ever.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has 15 sites in the county in its Superfund Program, designed for the most seriously contaminated sites.

Each is classified as “a significant threat to public health and the environment.”

Most have been known about for years and will require continued monitoring.

Here are the dirtiest of the dirty:

Carborundum-Globar, 3425 Hyde Park Blvd., Town of Niagara: Soil and groundwater contamination at the former manufacturing site has been caused by spills and leaks from the storage of bulk chemicals and used equipment. The 5-acre facility produced heating elements and electronic components from silicon carbide. As a monitoring program continues, reports issued in 2000 and 2004 determined no further activity is necessary to address contamination.

DuPont-Necco Park land — fill, Niagara Falls and Town of Niagara: The 24-acre industrial waste landfill closed in 1977, and investigations found contaminated groundwater has moved off-site. Surrounded on three sides by commercial waste disposal facilities, work took place at the site as recently as 2005, when an enhancement was made to the landfill cap.

Forest Glen Mobile Home Subdivision, Service Road, Niagara Falls and Town of Niagara: Low-lying areas of the 39-acre site were filled with unknown materials in the 1970s. In the late ’80s, high levels of organic chemicals were found, as were elevated levels of lead and mercury. The site was placed on the National Priorities List for Superfund sites in November 1989. Zoning was changed from residential to industrial/commercial in 1999. Environmental officials say the site is fully remediated and available for commercial use.

FMC Corp., Niagara Street, Middleport: For more than 50 years, the site was used to dispose of arsenic-based pesticides and other chemicals. Investigations began at the site in 1973 and have shifted off-site to the nearby Royalton-Hartland schools. Groundwater at the site is contaminated. Contaminants in the groundwater were found to have moved off site.

Frontier Chemical, Royal Avenue, Niagara Falls: The 9- acre site was used to store and treat chemicals from 1974 to 1992. Organic chemicals contaminate soil and groundwater at the site.

Gratwick-Riverside Park, River Road, North Tonawanda: Landfilling of municipal and industrial waste took place at the site from the late 1930s to the late ’60s. Groundwater at the site is contaminated, and contaminants were likely moving to the Niagara River. A collection system is now in place, and runoff is treated at the nearby municipal sewer treatment plant. The site is now a public park, and City of North Tonawanda officials are planning $11 million in improvements.

Guterl Specialty Steel Corp., Ohio Street, Lockport: The 70-acre site contains various wastes, including slag, foundry sand, waste oils and other plant materials that were landfilled on the site from 1962 to 1980. Groundwater on the site is contaminated by various chemicals including chromium, iron and magnesium, and radioactivity standards for groundwater are also exceeded.

Hooker-Hyde Park Land — fill, Hyde Park Boulevard, Niagara Falls: The 15-acre site was used to dump chemical waste from 1953 to 1975. It was placed on the National Priorities List in 1983. A containment system has been in place since 1993, though the first site remedies were implemented in 1986. Dioxin, a known carcinogen, is the primary contaminant of concern. Contaminated groundwater beneath the site and extending to the Niagara Gorge poses a long-term threat, environmental officials say.

Hooker-Main Plant, Buffalo Avenue, Niagara Falls: The facility is a working plant owned by Occidental Chemical. State environmental officials believe 6,000 tons of chemicals have been disposed of at the site, which is subject to a long-term operation, maintenance and monitoring program. Contaminated groundwater is collected on site, while contaminated soils have been covered.

Hooker-”S” Area, Buffalo Avenue, Niagara Falls: The site was used to landfill thousands of tons of chemicals, which, in 1978, were found to be leaking into buried utility lines. It sits in the southwest corner of Occidental Chemical’s facility, and was placed on the National Priorities List for Superfund sites in 1983.

Tract II Highland Avenue, Niagara Falls: The central portion of the now-city-owned, 20-acre parcel has been subject to illegal dumping of debris and waste, according to environmental officials. There exists a threat for direct human exposure to contaminants, primarily polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and metals in the soil.

U. S. Air Force Plant 68 burn pits and drum burial area, Balmer Road, Town of Porter: Two burn pits were used to dispose of various chemicals by Olin Corp., which was under contract with the Navy and the Air Force. More than 2,000 tons of contaminated soil were removed from 1981. The land, subject to an ongoing investigation by the Army Corps of Engineers, is currently owned by the federal government and CWM Chemical Services.

U.S. Air Force Plant 68 drum burial area, Balmer Road, Town of Porter: About 200 drums containing high-energy rocket fuel were reportedly buried here. A 1981 site investigation turned up no drums. The site is also owned by CWM and the federal government, and is part of the Army Corps investigation.

Vanadium Corp. of America, Witmer Road, Town of Niagara: The 150-acre property, which currently has a number of owners, is about one and a half miles from the Niagara River, 1,000 feet from Gill Creek and less than a mile from the New York Power Authority’s Lewiston Reservoir. It consists of several capped landfills which are subject to various monitoring activities. At least 100,000 tons of waste were buried there. Actions have been taken to lessen groundwater contamination. Many open waste piles remain on the rights-of-way adjacent to the properties, according to state environmental officials.

abesecker@buffnews.com

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