Jul 02, 2010 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
The Skaneateles Town Board held a hamlet meeting July 29 at St. Andrews Church to hear an update on an issue that just hasn’t gone away. When asked by town supervisor Terri Roney when cleanup of the former Stauffer site in Mottville would be completed, John Grathwol of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) hesitated.
“I can answer why I’m having trouble answering that,” he said. “It’s because every step of the way we decide on these checklist items, Stauffer may disagree, but then pursue two or three of them.”
The state says what Stauffer should do, “but it’s still on their nickel, they have set resources.” Grathwol made a rough estimate of five years — and three to five years if Stauffer agreed to all of the DEC’s suggestions.
Grathwol, who is with the DEC’s Division of Hazardous Waste Remediation, has been in close communication with Roney over the cleanup’s progress. He came to Skaneateles in May 2009 to provide an update that, after four years of silence, many felt was long overdue.
“Based on that meeting, the department of management expediated their review and we got it the next month,” he said. Since submitting the letter to the DEC, which outlined extensively what needed to be done on the site, Stauffer has installed over 50 wells and over 150 borings (used for sampling soil).
“There’s areas that have never been investigated before that Stauffer, on their own dollar, no state moneys, took forth and did the borings and wells,” he said.
Grathwol pointed to new areas found to be containing chemicals — including mercury and Xylene — at various spots on a map of the region surrounding the Stauffer site.
“But the good news is it seems to be contained on this site,” he said, adding that the chemicals are not going to migrate.
One factor going into Grathwol’s hesitation on a time frame is that there are windows for cleanup of certain areas, one being open right now. Due to trout stream patterns, the creek can only be worked on from July to September.
“If there was no Stauffer, that’s the first one I would do,” he said, citing it as the area with the most contamination.
Roney was pleased with the level of communication extended by Grathwol, who offered his email address to anyone with further questions about the cleanup’s progress. Many sought ways to increase their knowledge down the road. Skaneateles Town Board member Rick Keyes asked if the DEC could provide a checklist of what needs to be done between now and closure.
“Some kind of timeline, say a month, ten years, just so we can have an endgame?” Keyes said.
Grathwol said he would have a better idea of what needs to be done in August, after all data has been analyzed.
Following the information session, Roney reflected optimistically on new information provided by Grathwol.
“I didn’t realize that the standard that they’re trying to clean it to is unrestricted,” she said, referring to the number of parts per million allowed for contaminants.
Grathwol had informed the room that the DEC is considering raising the concentration limit for certain chemicals in order to move the process along.
“We’re trying to figure out what’s the appropriate cleanup level that would cost a more reasonable amount, ” he said.
Grathwol continued, “The cleanup would be less stringent. We work with the health department to determine what would be safe.”