Arsenic, chromium, and copper to be removed from Railroad Avenue site

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Abandoned and hazardous: A dilapidated area of Railroad Avenue, in Guilderland, once the home of industrial warehouses, sits empty, and an investigation shows sections of chemical contamination from decades ago. One half-acre section, contaminated with copper, chromium, and arsenic, is slated to be cleaned up with the help of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

GUILDERLAND — The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has identified a site containing hazardous substances in Guilderland, and will hold a public meeting in March to discuss a potential remedy.

The site is a half-acre portion of an 8.8-acre property located at 54 Railroad Avenue, off of Fuller Road, and the soil there is contaminated with arsenic, chromium, and copper. It is listed as “Class 2” in the state’s registry of inactive hazardous waste sites, meaning action is required.

The registry describes the site this way: It was used from the early 1950s, until 1978, by lumber companies, which preserved wood by pressure treating it with chromated copper arsenate. The wood was then allowed to air dry on the site. In 1965, between 2,000 and 3,000 gallons of chromated copper arsenate spilled on the site when a pressure vessel was opened before it was pumped out.

Various buildings that were on the site have been removed, but concrete slabs, as well as broken asphalt, remain. A drainage swale on the railroad property slopes to the southeast, and stormwater at the site is collected and discharged into the swale, which is the property currently up for remediation.

The site was once investigated by the Voluntary Cleanup Program, but the program was never completed. In March 2007, the responsible parties were identified. According to Rick Georgeson, a DEC spokesperson for Region 4, there were four parties — Paulsen and Sons, Inc., Holbrook Lumber Company, Albany Miron Lumber Corporation, and Colonie Wood Treating and Stain Corp.

The four parties signed a consent order with the state in 2007 and paid a total of $910,000, said Georgeson. At that point, the site was referred to the State Superfund to complete remediation.

New York’s State Superfund Program identifies suspected inactive waste disposal sites that pose a significant threat to public health or the environment, and uses state funds to evaluate, clean up, and monitor the sites.

Soil sampling on the site revealed that contamination occurred as a result of off-site drainage, and that the vast majority of the contaminated soil is located within the first four feet, except in some isolated locations, where arsenic contamination extends up to 10 feet deep.

The proposed remediation plan would involve the excavation of the top 12 inches of soil, to be transported to a permitted disposal facility, and a 12-inch layer of clean soil would replace the soil that was removed.

According to Georgeson, the total cost of the project would be $469,000. A nearby area on the same parcel was cleaned up, using some of the funds from the responsible parties, within the past two years.

Georgeson said the remediation project would not pose a health threat to the surrounding community.

The DEC will hold a public meeting, on March 13 at the Town of Colonie Community Center, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the proposed remedy. After the meeting, the DEC will accept public comments for a 30-day period.

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