Edgewood warehouse slated for cleanup

OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino An environmental cleanup is planned for the former Edgewood Warehouse property on Roberts Road due to interest from a developer. Public comments are being accepted until Nov. 3.

Dunkirk’s most talked about brownfield sites is going through the process for a cleanup.

The former Edgewood Warehouse property has been eyed as the prime location for several developments coming to Dunkirk, if only it was cleaned up.

HISTORY

According to the Department of Environmental Conser-vation’s site record, the 320 Roberts Road location has a rich history leading up to its currently abandoned and county-owned state.

In 1910, it was owned and operated by the American Locomotive Company, also known as ALCO. In 1930, the complex made its first transformation from manufacturing locomotives to manufacturing process equipment. Manufacturing to military equipment was added during World War II.

After the war, ALCO was contracted by the Atomic Energy Commission to manufacture nuclear reactor components and packaged reactor units as well as the crawler for the Apollo/Saturn V space rocket.

ALCO closed in 1963, but the site was occupied by Plymoth Tube Company from 1967 to 1982. Cendella Wood Products also occupied a building during that time for manufacturing pallets, crates and boxes, but the building was demolished in 1988.

From 1982 to 2008, the site was operated as a warehouse for the former Dunkirk Ice Cream by Edgewood Investments Inc. and was also home to several small businesses.

The property went up for sale on tax foreclosure in 2008, when Chautauqua County took possession for the purpose of private redevelopment.

Two developers whose requests for proposal were accepted by the county did not come to fruition in 2009 and 2014.

CLEANUP

The DEC has been testing the site for contamination since 1997 when a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment was prepared. In 1999, Phase II of that assessment was performed to test soil and groundwater contamination as well as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in electrical equipment.

Those assessments found asbestos in the warehouse, PCBs in the lighting ballast equipment and a potential for radioactive materials.

In 2008, the Environmental Restoration Program detected contaminants of concern in the surface and subsurface soil, seven of which were carcinogens.

“Arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead (and) manganese were the metals most commonly encountered at concentrations exceeding unrestricted use of (Soil Cleanup Objectives),” the site record says.

Contaminants were also detected in eight of 14 groundwater wells, but because the area is served by a public water supply, there is no expected danger in that regard.

Wildlife is also not a concern because the “plant community is not well developed and does not provide an important habitat for terrestrial wildlife.”

SOLUTION

Once again, a developer has plans for the site, moving the cleanup process forward. The development gets back to some of the site’s more recent uses with the proposal to help store ice cream for Fieldbrook Foods.

The development was previously proposed for an undeveloped “greenfield” site off Fairview Avenue in Dunkirk. Opposition from neighbors culminated in a derailing lawsuit. However, the former Edgewood Warehouse site was mentioned over and over as a potentially perfect location.

“The city asked the county to move forward with this cleanup because the cold storage facility would like to locate there. This environmental cleanup is the first step toward that,” City of Dunkirk Development Director Rebecca Yanus explained. “Even if the cold storage facility ultimately does not locate there we still want to pursue this cleanup.”

The DEC’s site record provides a plan for remediation.

“The potential for contact with contaminated soil will be addressed by soil removal and an extensive cover system. Subslab depressurization systems will be required in occupied structures developed over any contaminated groundwater,” the site record concludes.

The full report can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/60058.html or at the Dunkirk Public Library. The comment period ends Nov. 3. Comments may be sent to Project Manager David Locey, NYSDEC, 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo, N.Y. 14203-2915, by email to david.locey@dec.ny.gov or by calling 851-7220.

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