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EPA to Begin Site Work Preparation at Ithaca Gun Company Site

Release Date: 04/05/2002
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(#02020) NEW YORK, N.Y. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin site preparation work at the former Ithaca Gun Company site in Ithaca starting the week of April 8. Initially, EPA will create space for equipment and personnel and then begin to demolish and remove old deteriorated structures at the site to make way for the upcoming cleanup of lead-contaminated soil at the site later this spring. The cleanup is expected to cost nearly $2 million and take about nine months to complete. Money from Superfund, the federal program to address hazardous waste sites, will pay for the work.

The Ithaca Gun Company was in operation from 1880 to 1986 as a manufacturer of firearms and munitions. State Street Associates L.P. II owns the former gun company buildings located at 121-125 Lake Street above the falls. The City of Ithaca owns the property commonly referred to as Ithaca Falls, a popular swimming and fishing area of Fall Creek below the former plant property.

“The prep work will be a critical phase in our overall cleanup efforts at the site, given the difficult terrain and sensitive ecology involved,” EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny noted. “Our intention in the overall cleanup is to remove the hazards at the site and set the stage for its future redevelopment into a valuable community asset,” Ms. Kenny said.

The Agency received a request from the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to conduct a cleanup action at this site in August 2000. The request was prompted by high levels of lead found in soils at the site by state agencies and Cornell University. EPA’s sampling of the area confirmed the finding and the movement of the contamination from the former gun facility onto the Ithaca Falls portion of the property.

EPA’s assessment of the situation calls for the removal of an estimated 2,370 tons of lead-contaminated soil on the rocky slope between the gun factory buildings and the falls, backfilling the excavated area with clean soil and final site restoration. EPA will begin the cleanup, backfilling and site restoration at the highest point of the former factory property prior to moving downhill along Ithaca Falls Creek. EPA will install slope stabilization areas adjacent to the falls and creek to create a safe working environment and control erosion during the excavation work.

EPA will schedule public availability sessions in Ithaca before the actual cleanup gets started to present and discuss the extensive work and the health and safety plan the Agency has developed for this project.