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DEC completes $8 million cleanup of River Road industrial resin site

Remediation work has been completed at a 6.7-acre industrial site in the Town of Tonawanda where resin products were manufactured, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced.

The work at Polymer Applications, 3445 River Road, included removal of almost 16,000 tons of contaminated soil and a little more than 170 tons of material -- from five buildings that were demolished -- suspected of containing asbestos.

The site has been remediated to commercial standards, and its use will be restricted, said Greg Sutton of the DEC's Division of Environmental Remediation.

The DEC intends to reclassify the site in the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites. It will go from Class 2, which means it poses a significant threat to the public health or environment and requires action, to Class 4, which means the site is properly closed and requires continued management. "For a time, we may do some groundwater monitoring on the site," Sutton explained.

The property is on the east side of River Road north of Sheridan Drive. The plant manufactured resin products used in the automotive, paint and coatings industries from 1968 until 1990.

An on-site lagoon was used for disposal; liquids were stored in tanks. According to the DEC, there were several reports of spills between 1977 and 1988.

In 1988, a major fire severely damaged the main production and tank farm areas, and sent 51 firefighters to hospitals for decontamination. A smaller fire in 1990 ended the company's limited operations.

The property is privately owned, having last been sold in February 1995 for $1, according to Town of Tonawanda records.

"DEC doesn't take ownership of the property when we do remediation," Sutton said. Under the law, the owner is responsible for 100 percent of the DEC's costs, which he estimated at $8 million. That matter is handled by the State Attorney General's Office, he said.

The cleanup dates back to 1994, when the federal Environmental Protection Agency began removing contaminated materials and shipping them to disposal facilities across the country. After that was completed in 1996, the DEC took over.

Project documents are available in the Kenmore Library, 160 Delaware Road.