NEW YORK, N.Y. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its plan to demolish a building, dig up contaminated soil and sediment, and treat the ground water at the Crown Cleaners of Watertown Inc. Superfund site in Herrings, N.Y.
The soil and sediment are contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and the ground water is contaminated with VOC from past operations at this former paper bag manufacturing, laundry and dry cleaning facility.
“EPA’s work at the site during the next phase of the cleanup is a step forward in our effort to protect the health of people who live or work near this abandoned facility,” says Judith A. Enck, EPA regional administrator. “Removing contaminated materials and cleaning up the ground water will reduce the health risks from this site.”
From 1890 until the 1960s, the site was used by the St. Regis Paper Co. to produce paper bags. In the late 1970s, the property was purchased by Crown Cleaners of Watertown Inc. and was operated until 1991 as a dry cleaning and laundry facility. Wastewater was discharged through the foundation walls into the ground. Used drycleaning machine filters were dumped on the site property.
In 1991, the state of New York discovered that the Village of Herrings’ public water supply well was contaminated and subsequently installed a treatment system. In 2001, to address the immediate problems posed by the site, EPA secured the property, removed numerous sources of contamination inside the main building, including contaminated sludge and debris, 5,000 gallons of waste oil and asbestos-containing material, and demolished an unstable portion of the main building and a large smoke stack. The site was added to the federal Superfund list in 2002.
The EPA does an extensive search to identify and locate the parties potentially responsible for the contamination at all sites on the Superfund list. The agency requires responsible parties to pay for or perform the cleanup work with EPA oversight. The majority of Superfund cleanups are performed by or paid for by polluters. Taxpayer dollars are used to cover EPA cleanup costs when no responsible party can be identified. In this instance, the EPA will spend about $7 million in cleanup costs.