Friday, April 13, 2012

By: Duane Criag

The recent announcement that the Revere Smelting and Refining Corp. cleanup in Middletown, N.Y., was estimated to cost almost $19 million and require removing up to 24 feet of contaminated soil in some places illustrates the severity of handling contamination from the past.

But what’s interesting about this site is that it is permitted to handle and dispose of hazardous wastes. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, “fill material containing lead slag, battery parts and other waste was buried at this site,” according to the RCRA Corrective Action report on file at the N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation.

Originally, there were an estimated 100,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil to deal with. The company took care of about 30,000 cubic yards of that contamination but then stopped in 1999 when additional cleanup areas were discovered. Now, with a new plan sanctioned by the state, the company will perform the additional work under the state’s oversight. Contaminants include lead (up to 200,000 parts per million) and trace elements of cadmium, antimony, and arsenic. Of course, the groundwater has been contaminated, as well. Once the cleanup is complete, various parcels of the land will be restricted to industrial or commercial use, depending on their locations.

As of 2008, New York State had about 170 places licensed to treat waste generated on site and handle waste brought in from other places, according to the appendices to the New York State Hazardous Waste Facility Siting Plan. Not surprisingly, the list includes well-known corporations and universities, and it shows them well-distributed across the state’s landscape. Revere is still in operation and, under its commercial facility permit in 2008, handled a little more than 100,000 tons of hazardous waste. It also performed on-site treatment of nearly 113,000 tons of these materials. But it is not the largest handler. For example, CWM Chemicals in Model City handled about 200,300 tons in 2008, LBG Engineering in Sag Harbor handled more than 600,000 tons and IBM in Hopewell Junction handled almost 900,000 tons.

Others with high tonnage include Occidental Chemical in Niagara Falls, with almost 785,000 tons, and FMC Corp in Middleport, with about 125,000 tons. Rochester’s Eastman Kodak, however, led the pack in 2008 with 26,968,221 tons.

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