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Remediation recommended at site of former Orchard Park dry cleaner

A cleanup is being recommended at the site of a former Southtowns shopping plaza after a former dry-cleaning business there left behind contaminated soil and water, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced.

The more-than-$600,000 cleanup would take place as part of a brownfield redevelopment project at 3021 Orchard Park Road.

Plans call for the site to be redeveloped into a “consolidated Western New York Southtowns multi-disciplinary world class cancer center” with additional medical practitioners operating in a future stand-alone building there.

The cleanup is proposed to be undertaken and paid for by 3021-3041 Orchard Park Road LLC and Comprehensive Cancer Services Oncology P.C., the agency reported. The DEC will provide oversight.

The DEC opened its 45-day comment period Friday to generate public input about the environmental cleanup proposed at the five-acre site that was most notably known as the former location of the Orchard Park Antique Mall. It also formerly held Tops Markets, CVS Pharmacy and several other businesses.

Earlier this year, an environmental firm confirmed groundwater there was contaminated with volatile organic compounds, including benzene, trichloroethylene and vinyl chloride. Elevated levels of arsenic were also detected in soil samples, according to the report by the Benchmark Environmental Engineering & Science firm, in association with TurnKey Environmental Restoration, LLC.

The study found the contamination was localized to the parcel’s southeastern corner.

Although three possible alternatives were outlined by the report, ranging from performing no remedial work to expending nearly $1 million to fully clean up and remove all of the contamination on site, the report concluded that doing nothing at the site is not a reasonable option.

“This alternative would not protect public health and the environment as the soil and groundwater are impacted,” it stated.

The recommended alternative was to proceed with a mid-range option satisfying the remediation of the site with a $353,800 capital expenditure and a recurring $13,000 cost for annual maintenance and monitoring.

That option would result in removing soil while covering other areas to prevent any direct human contact with contamination and treatments that would ameliorate any chance contaminated groundwater could escape the site. Groundwater would be remediated on the site to east of the former dry-cleaning business, according to the plan.

“It is fully protective of public health and the environment; is less disruptive to the community; is consistent with current and future land use and the redevelopment plan; and represents a more cost-effective approach,” the document stated.

Written comments can be made to the DEC through July 20.

Agency officials will review the comments received before issuing a final decision, which is also subject to approval by the state Department of Health.

Comments can be made to: David Locey, NYS DEC, 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo, NY 14203.