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EPA Paves the Way for Redevelopment of Bethlehem Steel Parcel

Release Date: 03/15/2001
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(#01022) New York, N.Y. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a major step to bring about the eventual redevelopment of a 102-acre parcel of the 2000-acre Bethlehem Steel Corporation site in Lackawanna, New York. The agency has removed the parcel from a federal agreement requiring Bethlehem Steel to investigate its entire facility for environmental contamination -- an action the agency discussed at a public meeting held in Lackawanna in June 2000.

"EPA is committed to finding innovative ways to accelerate the cleanup of contaminated sites, and where possible, to return them to productive use," said Kathleen Callahan, Acting EPA Deputy Regional Administrator. "The success we have had working with our partners toward the redevelopment of the Bethlehem Steel parcel is an example of how smoothly this process can take place when all parties focus on the best interests of the community." EPA’s partners on the project include the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Erie County’s Department of Environmental Planning and Bethlehem Steel.

Bethlehem Steel operated a large steel-producing facility in Lackawanna for many years. The company’s past operations resulted in the contamination of certain portions of the 2000-acre site, which Bethlehem Steel is currently investigating under an agreement with EPA. The 102 acres that EPA, DEC, Erie County and the company hope will be returned to use are not believed to be areas of significant contamination. Nonetheless, they were originally part of the EPA/Bethlehem Steel investigation agreement. As such, they could not be redeveloped under DEC’s innovative "Voluntary Cleanup Program," designed to bring companies into a cooperative relationship with the state to expeditiously remediate their properties at their own cost. The state’s voluntary program does not apply to properties that are subject to a federal cleanup agreement. By removing the parcel from the federal agreement, EPA has made it possible for the parcel to be redeveloped without waiting for the rest of the property to be investigated and cleaned up. In conjunction with DEC, Bethlehem Steel is now in the process of developing a plan to do an environmental assessment of the parcel. When the plan is finalized, Bethlehem Steel will enter into an agreement with DEC to perform the assessment and remediate any parts of the parcel deemed necessary. After the necessary remediation work, Erie County, the city of Lackawanna and New York State will work to redevelop the 102-acre parcel into an industrial park. If the project is a success, this redevelopment process may be applied to other portions of the Bethlehem Steel facility.