If the money is there it will come down. That will be the fate of the former AL Tech Specialty Steel Plant building located on Lucas Avenue in Dunkirk
A small but inquisitive turnout of city residents greeted officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation Thursday at a hearing on the site plans held at Dunkirk High School.
Maurice Moore, Martin Doester and Kristen Davidson from DEC's Region 9 Buffalo office conducted the hearing. A slide display laid out the extent of contamination of groundwater and soil. Transformers with PCBs still inside are another concern.
The officials also listed the goals of the remediation, which are basically removing contamination and preventing any migration of chemicals via surface or ground water. In addition, there were concerns about vapors from contaminants.
It was explained there were three choices for the site, with the first being doing nothing. Second would be removing all the contaminated soil to allow for unlimited reuse. That would cost an estimated $17.5 million.
Third was restoration for industrial or commercial reuse, which is the plan proposed. This would cost an estimated $4.6 million and remove what is considered hazardous waste.
"Wastes that are considered sources of degradation to the environment, the higher-concentration stuff, we're going to take that out," Moore explained. "When we're finished with that we're going to cover it up and it will allow for commercial reuse. ... You could actually put a store in there or use it for a commercial operation."
The cost will be paid by the state's Superfund.
Moore said the project will be noisy with demolition and truck traffic hauling away soil and other material. He added community support was important as well. The building would be demolished down to the floor slab and any voids will be back-filled and covered. A site cover to one foot will be put in place upon development.
"We want to get the building down right now, the building is probably the most hazard there," Moore stated. "The last time I was there I chased two kids out."
Migration of contaminants and the safety of neighborhood residents and those using the nearby playground were concerns of the residents, along with the length of time the entire process is taking.
Doerster replied the entire site the DEC was working on was 90 acres and work is being done on other parts of the site, with the Willowbrook Avenue pond set to be taken care of in 2013. Moore added the most hazardous contaminants have been removed first.
Dunkirk Fire Department Captain Al Loeb was present and expressed concerns about possible fire fighting and rescue efforts in the building. He asked if the building could be torn down sooner.
Moore said the building acts as an "umbrella" and when it comes down the cleanup must be ready to begin.
"One of the reasons why this is stepping up in priority is because it's deteriorating," he added.
The time line will likely lead to demolition starting in 2014.
"If everything goes well, I'd like to see a spring 2014 start," Moore said. "I don't want to mislead anybody into thinking this is going to be torn down tomorrow or in the summer. That's not going to happen. I would say 2014 is the earliest that's going to happen.
"We've been trying to work this site for a long time. It's taken a long time to get where we're at and there's probably no one more frustrated than you all."
City Development Director Steve Neratko attended the hearing and was asked about the city's role.
"Apart from the work the DEC is doing now, the city applied in 2011 for a grant to continue with a brownfield program at the entire AlTech site," he replied. "It's called a Step 2 Program. We were awarded $330,000, of which we will have to make a $30,000 match, although that can be in-kind. As part of that, we will be putting together a steering committee to see what the focus of the study should be. Basically, we're looking to see what uses should occur at the properties once they are cleaned up and if there is any additional cleanup or additional work to be done to get it to that point for the use that we would like.
"If, for example, DEC does a certain amount of work at the AlTech site and we would want to use it for an unauthorized use, we would be able to look to see what needed to be done to get to that point."
Neratko was looking at a 2015 start for any redevelopment and added, "There should be a lot more news coming out in the next few months."
The analytical data collected on the site included data for air, groundwater, surface water, soil, sediment and soil vapor. The contaminant(s) of concern identified for the Lucas Avenue site include: petroleum products, trichloroethene (TCE), chromium, lead, arsenic, cyanides (soluble cyanide salts) and pcb-aroclor 1260.
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.
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 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 .
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