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EPA Proposes Plan for Next Phase of Cleanup at Crown Cleaners Superfund Site in Herrings, New York; Agency Encouraging Public Comment

Release Date: 12/12/2011
Contact Information: Mike Basile, 716-551-4410,

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a plan to demolish a building, dig up contaminated soil and sediment, and treat the ground water at the Crown Cleaners of Watertown, Inc. Superfund site in Herrings, New York. The soil, sediment and ground water are contaminated with volatile organic compounds and polyaromatic hydrocarbons from past operations at the former laundry and dry-cleaning facility. Volatile organic compounds can evaporate into the air and potentially impact people’s health. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons are a group of chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage or other organic substances. Exposure to these contaminants can have serious health impacts and increase the risk of cancer.

EPA is encouraging the public to comment on the plan through January 17, 2012 and plans a public meeting on January 3, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at the Village of Herrings Town Hall, 35983 NYS Route 3 in Herrings, New York.

“The cleanup plan for the Crown Cleaners Superfund site is another milestone in EPA’s efforts to protect the health of people who live or work near this abandoned facility,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “We encourage the public to comment on the plan and learn more about it at a January 3 meeting in Herrings.”

EPA is proposing to demolish the main building on the nine-acre property and dig up contaminated soil, debris and sediment from a wetland around the building. EPA will use two approaches to address the contaminated soil due to differences in the two types of pollution. All of the excavated soil that is contaminated with volatile organic compounds will be sent to a licensed off-site facility to prevent it from further contaminating the ground water. Soil that is contaminated with volatile organic compounds has the ability to move down through the soil and contaminate the ground water. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons remain bound to soil and are not impacting the aquifer, so they will be properly managed on-site. All excavated areas will be filled and covered with clean soil.

EPA plans to treat the contaminated ground water using chemicals called oxidants. Any wetlands that are disturbed will be restored. The plan also requires restrictions that will prevent activities that could disturb the cleaned up areas and will prohibit any future residential construction on-site. EPA will carefully oversee operations and monitor future activities on the site.

From 1890 until the 1960s, the site was used by the St. Regis Paper Company to produce paper bags. In the late 1970s, the property was purchased by Crown Cleaners of Watertown, Inc. and was operated until 1991 as a dry cleaning and laundry facility. Wastewater was discharged through the foundation walls into the ground. Used dry cleaning machine filters were dumped on the site property. In 1991, the state of New York discovered that the village of Herrings’ public water supply well was contaminated and subsequently installed a treatment system for the village drinking water well to protect public health. In 2001, to address the immediate problems posed by the site, EPA removed numerous sources of contamination inside the main building, including 5,000 gallons of waste oil and asbestos-containing material. Additional work to address the ground water contamination and remaining sources of contamination beneath the building were needed and the site was added to the Superfund list in 2002.

Comments should be mailed or emailed to:
Pamela Tames, P.E., Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
290 Broadway, 20th Floor
New York, New York 10007-1866
(212) 637-4255

The EPA has a web page about the site at

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