LOCKPORT – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disclosed Thursday that arsenic as well as asbestos has been found on the site of a ruined building at 89 Mill St. in Lockport.
In another Lockport environmental matter Thursday, the state Department of Environmental Conservation added Eighteen Mile Creek from Lockport to Olcott to its list of inactive hazardous waste sites posing a danger to the public.
The DEC said in its announcement that the classification was automatic, since the EPA had added the creek to its National Priorities List in March.
Elias Rodriguez, spokesman for the EPA in New York City, said the area surrounded by a chain-link fence at the Mill Street site, first installed by the agency Aug. 27, has been enlarged after preliminary soil test results showed the presence of arsenic.
The tests were expected to show asbestos, which was the reason the state Labor Department shut down efforts by the owner, Liberty Plant Maintenance of Dayton, Texas, to clean up and renovate the former paper mill power plant.
A Dumpster left behind by Liberty owner Scott J. Krzyzanowski in the fall of 2010, believed to contain asbestos removed from the building, also is fenced off.
City Judge Thomas J. DiMillo convicted Liberty of violating city building codes by abandoning the Dumpster, but sentencing was postponed again Thursday.
The new date is Nov. 8, but Deputy Corporation Counsel Matthew E. Brooks said the city wants to see cleanup action by the EPA before it closes the case against Liberty.
Liberty attorney James P. Milbrand said, “The EPA has made it clear that they’re going to proceed with the cleanup. [Krzyzanowski] has consented to let them on the property. He’s not fighting it.”
But Milbrand said the latest he’s heard is that the cleanup might cost $500,000, which the EPA would try to collect from Liberty.
“It’s turned into such an enormous expense, I don’t think [Krzyzanowski] can support it,” Milbrand said. “For a piece of property he didn’t pay that much for, it’s probably not in the budget.”
The City Assessor’s Office said Krzyzanowski paid $1,200 for the parcel at the 2010 city tax foreclosure auction.
The building is near the burned-out former Flintkote plant, a site believed to be the primary source of pollutants that led the EPA to place the sediments in the bed of Eighteen Mile Creek on its Superfund list.
“Sediment in the creek is contaminated with PCBs and metals, and there is a fish advisory [all species – eat none] for the entire creek,” the DEC statement said. “Furthermore, there is a potential for people to be exposed to the contamination through recreational use of the creek.”
Rodriguez said the EPA is considering whether the investigative work in the creek done before the Superfund designation in March is sufficient to start a federal remedial action, or whether the EPA needs to perform more studies of its own.
Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Hamburg, said in a statement that she had asked the EPA to place the creek on the Superfund list shortly before it happened. She also had asked the DEC to consider the creek for a state Superfund designation in 2011.