Quick Action by EPA and Partners Removes Hazardous Waste Threat

Nov. 24, 2008
EPA, in partnership with the city of Syracuse, N.Y., removed flammable, corrosive, toxic and shock sensitive materials abandoned at the former Otisca Fuels building site, located on the corner of McBride and Butternut streets.

“This effort was a true model of how much can be accomplished when working with a cooperative partner like the city of Syracuse,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Region 2 administrator. “Despite the tricky nature of removing materials from a dilapidated building, we were able to get this site under control in record time and remove the potential threats posed by the dangerous materials left behind.”

Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll said, “I commend the EPA for its rapid response to this situation. This is a perfect example of the Federal, State and Local governments pulling in the same direction for the neighborhood’s well being.”

Initial environmental investigation by the city and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) in 2007 included a structural assessment by the city’s consultant, C&S Companies. Significant interior deterioration was discovered and as a precaution, the city installed a fence to ensure people were protected from potential falling debris, restricting pedestrian traffic in front of the building on Butternut Street and through the site.

The NYS DEC asked EPA to step in on Feb. 28, and over the course of about 7 months, the EPA removed about 300 drums and 6,000 small containers of various materials. The EPA’s total cost of the cleanup was about $800,000.

In the past, Otisca Industries had used the building for research and development of alternate fuels using, among other substances, coal and coal slurry as an ingredient in its fuel mixtures.

If EPA determines a site containing abandoned chemicals presents an immediate and substantial threat to public health and safety, the Agency can take immediate action and either order the party responsible for the site to conduct a cleanup or, if no viable party can immediately be identified or if the company no longer exists, EPA can do the work itself. These short-term actions are authorized by the Superfund law.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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