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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 18, 2010

Fed funds $130k to clean up Joe’s

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — The defunct gas station at 2594 Western Ave., owned by the late Joseph Calabro, will be one of three Capital Region sites to get federal stimulus money for contaminated soil and groundwater cleanup.

Nine million dollars in stimulus money will be distributed for similar projects statewide, with Joe’s Service Station slated to get $130,000, according to Rick Georgeson, a public information officer for the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC will be the lead agency conducting the cleanup.

The groundwater and soil under the site are contaminated with volatile organic compounds, which are chemicals formed by the breakdown of gasoline products, said Georgeson.

The goal of the cleanup is to make the site usable, and get it back on the tax roll. Georgeson said the property is in probate, because Calabro had no living heirs.

“No one would want to take over a site with contamination hanging over their head,” Georgeson said. Although he did not have full statistics available, Georgeson said the VOC levels in the soil and groundwater under the station were above standards.

VOCs can pose health risks to people exposed to high concentrations of the chemicals; they can enter the body in three ways — breathing, touching, or swallowing. According to information provided by the state’s Department of Health, short-term exposure to high levels of VOCs can cause headaches, dizziness, light-headedness, drowsiness, nausea, and eye and respiratory irritation.

Long-term exposure to toxic levels of VOCs has caused cancer and affected the liver, kidney, and nervous system in laboratory animals.

“There are no immediate exposure concerns related to the former Joe’s Service Station,” according to Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman for the department of health. The chemicals would not be able to leach into the public water supply, he said.

Though there are no immediate health concerns, Georgeson said, the DEC will conduct more sampling of the soil and groundwater in the surrounding areas to check VOC levels.

Guilderland’s zoning enforcement and stormwater management officer, Rodger Stone, said he had not been aware of a problem with the Western Avenue property until last month, when he drove by and saw a DEC van parked at the site. Petroleum spills are reported to the state, he said, and have to be managed through the DEC, which is why the town was not involved.

A second property owned by Calabro, Ma’s Service Station, at the intersection of routes 20 and 158, was also part of the probate estate, but, Georgeson said, the DEC is not involved with that site, and Stone said the service station is now running with a new owner.

There is no timeline for completion of the cleanup, and, Georgeson said, if the project requires more than the ear-marked $130,000, there will be extra funding available through the New York State Spill Fund.

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