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EPA Announces Proposed Settlement with Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation for Cleanup of Saratoga Springs, NY Superfund Site; Value of Cleanup Work Estimated at $6.5 Million

Release Date: 10/16/2014
Contact Information: Larisa Romanowski, (518) 747-4389, romanowski.larisa@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a proposed settlement with Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation to perform a soil and groundwater cleanup and reimburse EPA for certain past and future costs at the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation Superfund site in Saratoga Springs, New York. Under the settlement, Niagara Mohawk will perform this additional cleanup work, valued at $6.5 million, and pay 100 percent of EPA’s future oversight costs as well as all of EPA’s costs from April 1, 2013 through the date the court approves the settlement. The site, which was once used to manufacture gas from coal, contains hazardous substances, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that were produced as byproducts and disposed of on site. Exposure to these pollutants can have serious health effects, and in some cases, increases the risk of cancer. Residents within the area impacted by the contaminated groundwater do not use the groundwater as a drinking water source and are served by a public water supply.

      "This agreement ensures that the remaining cleanup work at the Niagara Mohawk site will proceed and continue to protect this community,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “It also demonstrates how the Superfund law works to make polluters, rather than taxpayers, pay for the cost of cleanups.”

      From approximately 1853 to the 1940s, Niagara Mohawk's predecessors, Saratoga Gas and Light and New York Power and Light Corporation, produced gas at the Niagara Mohawk property on Excelsior Ave used to power gas street lights. After gas manufacturing stopped, the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation used its property for storage and to park vehicles. The EPA added the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation site to the Superfund list in 1990.

      In 1995, the EPA finalized a cleanup plan to address contaminants in the groundwater and soil on the Niagara Mohawk property, at a former skating rink, and in stream sediment along portions of Spring Run Creek. Under a 1997 settlement with EPA, Niagara Mohawk agreed to do the cleanup work. The company removed contaminated soil and sediment from areas containing coal tar waste, installed underground barriers to contain the contaminated groundwater and installed a protective cap to cover contaminated soil. In addition, the company constructed and continues to operate a system to extract and treat contaminated groundwater on Niagara Mohawk’s property. While this cleanup work was thought to be all that would be needed to address contamination at the site, additional soil and groundwater contamination was discovered in 2006 to the west and southwest of the Niagara Mohawk property in a half-acre area near Excelsior, Warren and High Rock Avenues. EPA oversaw Niagara Mohawk’s investigation of this newly discovered contamination, including their analysis of various options to address it.

      In 2013, the EPA finalized a second cleanup plan to address the newly discovered contamination. The work under this plan would be conducted under the agreement proposed today. The 2013 plan calls for the cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater under a section of Excelsior Avenue, at a small green space containing the Old Red Spring well and pavilion and under a section of an adjacent paved parking lot. Under the terms of the agreement with EPA, Niagara Mohawk will solidify and stabilize contaminated areas of soil in the Old Red Spring area with a cement-like material. The company will also install underground barriers to contain contaminated soil underneath the surface of Excelsior Avenue. Following the work, any grassy areas, plants, parking lots, roadways or sidewalks impacted during the cleanup will be restored. In addition, Niagara Mohawk will treat contaminated groundwater using non-hazardous oxygen-releasing materials and nutrients to break down the contamination to meet federal and state water quality standards. The EPA will require that groundwater samples be collected and analyzed periodically to verify that the level and extent of the contamination is declining. The plan requires environmental easements that will place restrictions on land use such as prohibiting the use of groundwater wells and preventing activities that could disturb the barrier wall and solidified material. To minimize the impact on the surrounding community, EPA and National Grid will work with the city government and community to minimize impacts during construction, particularly during the racing season.

      The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination at sites and it seeks to hold those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. To-date, the cleanup of the Niagara Mohawk Superfund site has been conducted and paid for by Niagara Mohawk with oversight by the EPA.

      The proposed settlement will be subject to a 30-day public comment period upon the publication of a notice in the Federal Register. For a copy of the proposed settlement, visit http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/niagaramohawk/. The 30-day public comment period starts when the proposed settlement is published in the Federal Register. Once it is published, a copy of the Federal Register notice with instructions about how to comment can be found at http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html. The settlement requires approval by the United States District Court before becoming final.

      For more information on the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation Superfund site, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region2/superfund/npl/niagaramohawk/.

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