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BUDC asks NY to pay for Superfund cleanup of Vibratech site

Faced with potentially heavy cleanup costs and burdens, the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. is putting one of the Northland Corridor economic-development hub properties into New York’s Superfund program to get it remediated with state help.

The nonprofit city-affiliated agency’s board on Tuesday approved a consent order with the state Department of Environmental Conservation for the former Vibratech site at 537 East Delavan Ave. BUDC acquired the large, vacant former manufacturing facility and its paved parking lot in December 2014 as part of the Northland light-industrial project, and plans to demolish the building as part of its redevelopment plans.

Both the state DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have known of the property’s extensive contamination for years. The agencies have performed cleanup work on the site since the early 1990s, and continue to monitor the property, but couldn’t get at the pollution they suspected was underneath the building until BUDC came along.

BUDC officials knew the site was “burdened with historical environmental conditions” – such as petroleum products and cleaning solvents – when the agency bought it, and started talking to the DEC immediately, said agency Vice President David Stebbins.

“This is a site that DEC has had on its radar for a long time,” he said. “This is what DEC was worried about. They really believe the building has to come down so they can get at it.”

The agency now plans to tear down the main complex, while preserving and closing off several secondary buildings that are linked to it. Officials will submit a demolition plan to the state by June 2017. That’s expected to cost about $1.7 million, to be paid with community development block grant funds from the city.

There’s no cost estimate for the pollution cleanup, which will be paid for by the state.

Stebbins said there’s no evidence the pollutants have spread off the property, which is located near a residential neighborhood, but crews will work extra carefully to prevent that. The state will then clean up the site, while BUDC may have to pay for continued monitoring, including groundwater treatment.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com

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