By GIB SNYDER
OBSERVER City Editor
A building that was once a busy part of the steel industry in the city of Dunkirk may be nearing the end of its time.
OBSERVER Photo by Gib Snyder
Pictured is the Lucas Avenue plant of the former AlTech Specialty Steel company. The Department of Environmental Conservation will hold a public hearing on a proposed remedy for the site Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Dunkirk High School auditorium.
The Lucas Avenue plant building that was once part of AlTech Specialty Steel will be the subject of a public hearing conducted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. It's titled an ALTech Update: Remedy Proposed for State Superfund Site. The public meeting will be Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Dunkirk High School auditorium. Attendees should enter the high school through the Sixth Street entrance.
The DEC has released a Proposed Remedial Action Plan to deal with what it calls the building's degrading integrity, starting with a remedial program introducing 'green principles' for a sustainable redevelopment.
Seven other parts of the remedy are listed.
Who: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
What: Public hearing on former Lucas Avenue steel plant building and site
When: Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Dunkirk High School auditorium - enter through Sixth Street entrance
Removal and proper disposal of all underground storage tanks (USTs) and electrical transformers; demolition of the remaining building; excavation of contaminated soils and hazardous waste metals including cadmium, chromium and lead; soil treatment; site cover for future commercial use; place an environmental easement on the property, restricting future use of the property to industrial use, requiring evaluation of soil vapor intrusion and installation of a mitigation system, if warranted and prohibiting use of groundwater; and requiring future use to adhere to a Site Management Plan (SMP).
In addition, the DEC states it would require a remedial design program to be implemented to provide the details necessary for the construction, operation, maintenance, and monitoring of the remedial program. Green remediation principles and techniques will be implemented to the extent feasible in the design. Site-specific soil cleanup objectives (SCOs) relevant to the planned use of the site will be used to guide excavation of contaminated soils.
An environmental easement for the property would be part of five Institutional Controls listed that would be required.
These include requiring the remedial party or site owner to submit a periodic certification of institutional and engineering controls. The controls also allows the use and development of the controlled property for commercial and industrial use; restricts the use of groundwater as a source of potable or process water; requires evaluation of soil vapor intrusion and if necessary install a sub-slab vapor mitigation system before any new buildings could be built and; requires compliance with the DEC approved SMP.
Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said the city has been awarded the funding for a future-use study of the site before demolition could begin.
"They're definitely willing to incorporate a large area in the city that may possibly use these funds in the future," Dolce explained. "I guess the key is the study needs to happen first, they don't want to just do the demo without a plan in place."
He added the study is being run through the Development Department with the DEC's assistance in grant funding.
"What we will do with the funding is put this out to RFP and then we'll get the best and brightest proposals," Dolce explained. "This is quite a lengthy process, as are most things government related, but it's a step, a very positive step. (Development Director Steve Neratko) and I are definitely quite excited about that.
"The Lucas Avenue thing has the potential of being a huge cleanup and development. We're very excited about it. It's just one of those things you've got to make sure you have the right committees formed and you're examining all possible angles."
The DEC release describes the LAP as a one-story, approximately 178,000-square-foot former manufacturing facility located on the south side of the west end of Lucas Avenue. Situated on a rectangular parcel of land 2025' by 200' the LAP was formerly a part of the larger adjoining AlTech site.
According to the DEC, the original LAP facility was constructed in 1909, with additions constructed in 1920, 1936, 1940, and 1968. The site is bordered by a rail line to the south, Brigham Road to the west, a City of Dunkirk Department of Public Works (DPW) building to the east and Lucas Avenue to the north. A residential neighborhood and public school are located on the north side of Lucas Avenue.
The DEC also lists past operations at the plant that have lead to site contamination. Included are pickling operations using molten sodium or barium salts, trichloroethylene pickle baths, metal plating operations, solid waste disposal, spillages, precipitation runoff and discharges into the cooling pond.
The site has been under investigation since 1985 with site-wide investigations from 1992 to 2008 studying solid waste management units and areas of concern. The studies investigated all media including; surface soil, subsurface soil, groundwater, sediments and soil vapor/sub-slab vapor. Also included were studies focusing on sediments and ecological impacts to the tributary of Crooked Brook.
In 1998 the Department listed the site as a Class 2 site in the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites in New York State. A Class 2 site is a site where hazardous waste presents a significant threat to the public health or the environment and action is required.
AlTech Specialty Steel ceased operations in 2001. An asset holding corporation, named RealCo emerged to address environmental issues at the idled facility, including, but not limited to the LAP and Willowbrook Pond. In 2002 Dunkirk Acquisition, LLC d.b.a. Dunkirk Specialty Steel acquired out of bankruptcy, the assets of the AlTech Site except for the LAP, the Brigham Road Pickle Room and the Willowbrook Pond.
Additional site details, including environmental and health assessment summaries, are available on DEC's website. Project documents are available at the Dunkirk Free Library, 536 Central Ave. in the city.
Comments and questions are welcome and will be accepted until Oct. 12 and should be directed to Maurice Moore, NYS DEC, Division of Environmental Remediation, 270 Michigan Ave. Buffalo, NY 14203-2915. Moore can also be reached at 716-851-7220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Site-related health questions should be sent to Matthew Forcucci, NYS DOH, 584 Delaware Ave. Buffalo, NY 14202-1295. Forucci can also be reached at 716-847-4501 or email@example.com.
Send comments on this story to firstname.lastname@example.org