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EPA Proposes Cleanup Plan for Mercury Refining Superfund Site


(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a plan to clean up the Mercury Refining Superfund site located at 26 Railroad Avenue in Colonie, New York. The site includes the Mercury Refining Company (MERECO) property and portions of the following adjoining properties: the Allied Building Products Corporation property, the Diamond W. Products Company property, the Albany Pallet and Box Company property, and a portion of the unnamed tributary to Patroon Creek, located just south of the property. EPA’s preferred plan will address contaminated soil, sediment and ground water at the site.

“We encourage residents to come out to the public meeting to learn about our proposed cleanup plan and get their questions answered,” said Alan J. Steinberg, Regional Administrator. “Since EPA took the lead on this site, our main goal has been to assess and, ultimately, carry out a plan that will address all the components of this property.”

Under EPA’s proposed plan, on-site mercury contaminated soils, which are shallow and accessible would be excavated and disposed of off-site. Contaminated soils that are deeper and less accessible would be treated on-site. The treatment technology specified by the plan locks in and prevents the mercury contamination from spreading into the ground water. The plan also calls for removal of contaminated sediment from an unnamed tributary to the Patroon Creek, which receives stormwater from the Mercury Refining property. The sediment would be dewatered and disposed of at an off-site landfill.

EPA will hold a public meeting on the proposed plan on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 7 p.m. at the Fuller Road Firehouse, 1342 Central Avenue, Colonie, NY, 12205.

MERECO was founded in 1955 and accepted mercury from mercury batteries and other mercury-bearing materials, such as thermometers and dental amalgams. The recovered mercury was then refined and marketed.

Before 1980, waste contaminated with mercury was dumped over an embankment of the Unnamed Tributary to the Patroon Creek. Contaminated storm water drained off the site into the Unnamed Tributary. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) sampled the area around the tributary in the early 1980’s and found polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury contamination on the southern edge of the property and the embankment of the tributary.

In 1983, EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List of the most contaminated sites in the country. In the mid-1980s, MERECO was directed by the NYSDEC, which served as lead agency for the site at the time, to investigate and remove certain areas of soil containing mercury and PCBs, which were contaminated by the waste materials dumped over the embankment before 1980, both on and off the property. Clay and asphalt/concrete caps were placed over the excavated area. The NYSDEC directed MERECO to conduct several additional investigations in the 1980s and 1990s to determine the full extent of mercury contamination in the soil, ground water and sediment and to evaluate potentially suitable corrective measures for addressing the contamination. In 1999, at the request of the NYSDEC, EPA took over as lead agency and subsequently initiated and completed a remedial investigation and feasibility study of the site. The study was based on past data that was collected before 1999 and additional data to complete the characterization of the site. EPA’s proposed plan is based on the data and analysis performed for the study.

A 30-day public comment period on the proposed plan began March 30, 2008. EPA will select a final cleanup plan for the site after reviewing and considering all information submitted during the public comment period. Interested individuals can send comments to:

Thomas Taccone, Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 20th floor
New York, New York 10007-1866


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