The state Department of Environmental Conservation will investigate the extent of contamination at a commercial site in Schenectady’s Central State Street neighborhood where known and possible carcinogens were detected several years ago.
The site at 1122-24 State St. is home to Midtowne Laundry Center and No. 1 Chinese Take Out Restaurant. It was designated a state Superfund site in 2012 and given a classification that usually requires a detailed environmental investigation and cleanup.
The contamination likely occurred in the 1970s and 80s, when a dry cleaning facility at the site used tetrachloroethene, a chemical more commonly known as perc that is widely used in the dry-cleaning business. Housekeeping practices at the facility from 1969 to 1987 allowed the perc to contaminate the groundwater at the site, DEC said.
The laundromat and restaurant cover more than two-thirds of the nearly quarter-acre site; the rest is covered with pavement. This makes direct contact with potentially contaminated soil below the surface unlikely. Contact with contaminated groundwater is also unlikely, since the area is served by a public water supply.
The site poses a potential threat to public health, though, because of the potential for vapor intrusion into nearby homes. Volatile organic compounds in the groundwater may move into buildings at or near the site and affect indoor air quality. The potential for this kind of exposure will be investigated this fall.
The department only identified the site as potentially contaminated after an investigation several years ago to determine the source of contaminated groundwater discovered near Brandywine Avenue. The Midtowne site was identified as a potential source of the plume.
An early investigation at the site found contamination in both the groundwater and soil vapor from chlorinated solvents including tetrachloroethene, a known carcinogen; trichloroethene, a possible carcinogen; and both “cis” and “trans” forms of 1,2-dichloroethene, which can damage the liver and the circulatory and nervous systems over a long period of time. Concentrations were particularly elevated in a vacant lot next to the site.
A public notice was issued to residents, media and local governments in October 2012, letting them know the site presents a potentially significant threat to public health and the environment.
Two years later, an investigation is set to begin to determine the extent and nature of the contamination. The department will conduct a feasibility study that develops and evaluates potential ways to clean up contamination at or near the site. The investigation could also find that no action is needed. If that’s not the case, the department would develop a draft cleanup plan that describes its preferred remedy. This would be presented to the public for review and comment during a 30-day comment period and at a public meeting.
More information is available about the site at www.dec.ny.gov or in person at the Duane branch of the Schenectady County Public Library, 1331 State St. Anyone with comments or questions about health concerns posed by the site should contact Stephanie Selmer at the state Department of Health at 402-7860 or [email protected]
Anyone with comments or questions about the Superfund project should contact James Drumm at the DEC’s Division of Environmental Remediation at 402-9768 or [email protected]