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EPA Takes Quick Action to Clean Up Herkimer, New York Site

Release Date: 9/12/2005
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For Immediate Release: Monday, September 12, 2005

(#05104) New York The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun a time-critical cleanup to address hundreds of drums and bags filled with contaminated materials that were left behind at the now defunct H.M. Quakenbush facility in Herkimer, New York. The wastes were discovered during an August 17 inspection of the property, which EPA performed jointly with state and local officials.

"The long history of operations at the site produced large amounts of contaminated waste that needs to be cleaned up immediately to eliminate the threat to the community," said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. "We are taking swift action to address the problem, working closely with state and local agencies."

H.M. Quakenbush is a now-closed metal plating company that manufactured bicycles, guns and nutcrackers for 132 years. Operations at the site ceased in July 2005, leaving behind hundreds of 55-gallon drums containing muratic acid, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and various solvents, along with 50 one-ton bags of waste sludge and waste piles containing oils, chromium, nickel and cyanide. EPA, the Herkimer Fire Department, and the New York State Departments of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation have been working closely since the discovery of contaminants at the site.

EPA will begin its activities by developing an inventory of the chemical wastes at the site and taking samples to determine the appropriate method of disposal. The cost of the cleanup is estimated to exceed $350,000. The work is expected to be completed later this fall.

EPA will hold a public meeting to discuss its findings at the H.M. Quakenbush site and present its plans for a short-term investigation and cleanup on Wednesday September 14, 2005 at 7 p.m. at the Herkimer Town Hall located at 114 N. Prospect Avenue, Herkimer, NY. Information on the Agency's emergency response program can be found on the EPA Web site at