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Cleanup of contaminated site heralded

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held a news conference Wednesday to trumpet their cleanup of a site whose owner is in federal prison for repeated pollution violations.

The former MRS Plating building at 310 Park Ave. was demolished this spring, and 2 to 4 inches of topsoil had to be removed to make sure all the chemical contamination was gone, according to Kevin Matheis, EPA on-site coordinator for the cleanup.

The EPA spent $1.5 million on the emergency cleanup of a site so soaked with acid that it wrecked the parking lot of the Pies Furniture store next door as well as the sidewalk in front of the business.

In addition to repairing those pavements, the EPA replaced city sewer lines after checking their condition from the polluted runoff.
The site now is covered with crushed stone and surrounded by black chain-link fences, with a sewer receiver in the center to handle runoff.

Ronald Jagielo, 47, of Medina, the company's owner, was sentenced in June to 22 months in prison and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution.

He's serving time in the medium-security Ray Brook Correctional Institution in northern New York, near Lake Placid, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Web site.

The one-acre site is completely clean, according to Matheis. He said it could be reused for light industrial work or even residential development.

EPA officials speculated that decision might be up to the city, because even though the property remains in the name of the Jagielo family, taxes haven't been paid since 2005 and a foreclosure could be coming.

The city and county treasurers' offices said city, school and county taxes owed on the property total $24,709.90.

"Once we get the all-clear, we probably will look at foreclosing on that site," Mayor Michael W. Tucker said. The city, he said, could try to sell it to the adjoining property owners, and he noted that Pies Furniture has shown some interest.

In a cleanup that started in November 2006, WRS Compass of Bristol, Pa., the EPA's contractor, removed 12,000 gallons of acid, plus 6,000 gallons of water contaminated in washing down the 40- by 120-foot building.

Also hauled away were 1,300 tons of soil contaminated with chromium and solvents, 650 tons of building debris and 97 drums of assorted sludges and acids.

Matheis said the non-hazardous building debris was taken to the Allied Waste landfill in Niagara Falls, while the hazardous materials were shipped to sites in Michigan and Ohio.


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