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DEC advances Gloversville tannery cleanup

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
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The state is floating a plan to remediate the former Pan American Tannery site in Gloversville.
The state is floating a plan to remediate the former Pan American Tannery site in Gloversville.

— The state Department of Environmental Conservation is recommending the cheaper of two options to deal with contamination at the old Pan American Tannery site on West Fulton Street.

The former tannery, owned by the city of Gloversville following foreclosure, will be the focus of a demolition project this spring, and work through the state’s Environmental Restoration Program should leave the site in a condition useful for business but not residences.

The DEC is holding a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday, and documents detailing the site’s investigation and plans for remedial action are stored at City Hall and at the Gloversville Public Library.

The 4.8-acre site, situated in a residential area, has been the focus of an environmental investigation since 2005.

The site is situated on the Mill Creek, which flows to the Cayadutta Creek and then the Mohawk River.

It once bustled with activity in six tannery buildings operated from 1912 to the mid-1990s, which may have contributed to the contamination found there.

The probe revealed contaminants in surface soil, subsurface soil and groundwater, in some instances at extreme levels.

Copper in some areas was detected at 1,040 parts per million, and arsenic reached 750 ppm — both well above the 50 ppm threshold for normal property use and the 270 ppm considered OK for commercial use of contaminated property.

Additional contaminants including benzene, indeno pyrene and isopropyl benzene were identified at the site as well.

Work accomplished at the site so far includes fencing it off and removing an underground storage tank and three above-ground storage tanks.

Drums of petroleum and chemical waste, PCB-laden transformers and other tanning wastes were also removed, according to the DEC.

Three options were considered to address the contamination, including “no action.”

The other two options were a soil cover system and full excavation.

The soil cover system is being proposed as the preferred option and would cost an estimated $186,000 on top of $216,000 in costs already spent on the investigation and remedial measures. This system basically entails dumping a one-foot layer of clean dirt over the contaminated soil, a project that would take about two months to complete.

The other option would be to completely excavate all of the contaminated soil, dispose of it elsewhere and then replace it with clean soil, a three-month project, according to DEC documents. This would cost an estimated $1.56 million.

The long-term effectiveness of both the soil cover and soil removal methods are considered the same, according to the DEC. The state will pay for the work.

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King on Wednesday said the city is planning to demolish the existing buildings first.

Once remediation is complete, the site may house business once again — restrictions that will follow cleanup will likely prohibit residential use.

“Hopefully in 10 months or a year or so we’ll be able to market that land and have some business come in,” King said.

The public hearing will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in council chambers at Gloversville City Hall, 3 Frontage Road.

The DEC is accepting public comment on the proposal through March 15.

 
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