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Contaminated soil to be cleaned from 181 sites

Another round of soil excavations is being proposed for the village, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced this week.

The DEC's plan calls for removing soil contaminated with arsenic from 181 properties, including the Royalton-Hartland Central School campus.

The source of the arsenic is the FMC Corp. agricultural chemical plant. FMC is paying the entire cost of the cleanup.

It's the latest of several rounds of excavation in the village in recent years. This one is meant to cover what the DEC calls the "air deposition area."

That's the swath of property where arsenic is believed to have blown by prevailing winds from the plant, which handled arsenic from the 1920s to the 1980s.

The DEC's proposal is a revision of a plan put forward by FMC last year that called for digging up 152 properties at a cost to the company of $23.6 million.

The DEC accepted FMC's proposal to store the removed dirt on company property.

The goal is to reduce the arsenic level in the soil to an average of 20 parts per million. A 2003 study concluded that was the upper limit for background, or naturally occurring, arsenic in the village's soil.

Soil samples of 190 properties in the air deposition showed only eight had arsenic levels less than 20 parts per million; 159 properties topped 30 parts per million, and 56 of those exceeded 60 parts per million.

The DEC promised to do its best to preserve shade trees, which were generally wiped out in a previous cleanup that involved 26 homes nearest the plant, where stormwater runoff was believed to be the source of the arsenic.

At a public meeting a year ago, most speakers decried the notion of any more cleanups, saying they see no health impacts from the arsenic in the soil. But the work does harm Middleport's image and its property values, speakers said.

The DEC and the state Health Department will host another public meeting on the new proposal at 7 p.m. June 27 in the Middleport Fire Company hall, 28 Main St. A public availability session for less formal contact with officials will be offered from 1 to 4:30 p.m. June 28.

The 45-day comment period runs through July 30. Information about how to comment, along with the full, 55-page plan, is on the DEC's website,

Printed copies are available at the Middleport Free Library, 9 Vernon St.