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Contaminated Elmwood-Delavan corner targeted for cleanup

The southeastern corner of Elmwood and West Delavan avenues had been a gasoline oasis for Buffalo’s motoring public for more than a half-century.

But at least four documented spills at the site have contaminated soils there as deep as 13 feet below ground.

That’s why $630,000 or more in environmental cleanup of the site will be required if a proposal to transition the property into a mixed-use commercial and residential building at the gentrified city intersection is to be realized, according to a report by Benchmark Environmental, Engineering and Science.

Elmwood Village Properties Inc. is seeking to develop the site, at 905 Elmwood Ave., under the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. The brownfield program encourages developers to clean up and reuse contaminated properties in exchange for tax breaks.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Tuesday opened a 45-day public comment period to generate input about the developers’ plan that would convert the site to a habitable location for city residents.

The DEC report outlines details of the proposed cleanup, which include:

• Excavating and removing three underground petroleum tanks at the property.

• Demolishing and removing the gasoline service store and its canopy.

• Digging up and removing 3,000 cubic yards – about the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool – of soil laced with benzene, toluene and xylene.

• Providing a system to collect and direct any residual vapors from the soil outside of any future building.

• Backfilling the site with clean soil.

The DEC document pointed out the groundwater depth at the parcel ranges from 4 to 7.5 feet below the surface of the ground, but officials were confident the site could be adequately cleaned up.

“Groundwater quality is expected to recover after the contaminated soils are removed,” it stated.

Public comments on the proposed cleanup are being accepted by the DEC through July 30.

Comments can be forwarded to: David Locey, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo, NY 14203. Or email him at