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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: 914th Airlift Wing-AFRC in Niagara Falls, New York

On this page:

  • Cleanup Status
  • Site Description
  • Contaminants at this Facility
  • Site Responsibility

Cleanup Status                         

Corrective Measures Implementation has occurred at the Landfill, the Former Fire Training Pit, and the Underground Tank area, each consisting of groundwater containment and treatment. These systems underwent startup in June 1998, and currently are operational. An Interim Corrective Measure, consisting of a soil heating and soil vapor extraction system, was implemented at the Former Fire Training Pit from August 1996 until October 1996 to reduce the concentrations of volatile organic compounds in the soil. A fourth area, the Former Hazardous Waste Drum Storage Yard, underwent product recovery and is undergoing biodegradation on a test basis at this time. As noted above, the rest of the facility will not require cleanup.

Performance criteria include maintaining a groundwater capture zone, restoring the quality of groundwater at or below groundwater standards, and reducing the measured concentration of contaminants in groundwater by 50% in 5 years and 75% in 10 years (concluding in 2008.) Recent sampling data indicates that the facility is meeting this performance criteria.  

Site Description

914th Airlift Wing - AFRC is located approximately 15 miles north of Buffalo and six miles east of the City of Niagara Falls, New York. AFRC trains reserve officers and airmen to combat-ready status for national emergencies. AFRC is also the host to the 107th Air Refueling Group of the New York Air National Guard.

Groundwater and soil contamination is present at several areas as a result of defense missions, waste disposal practices, spills, leaks, and other activities carried out since 1942. The contamination at the facility is broken into thirteen separate areas, which have been investigated for contamination.

Currently, three of the thirteen solid waste management units (discernable areas where hazardous or solid waste has been routinely placed or released) are being remediated. These are: the Landfill, the Former Fire Training Pit, and the Underground Tank. All three have active groundwater collection systems. The Former Fire Training Pit also has undergone an Interim Corrective Measure to decrease soil contamination. A fourth area, the Former Hazardous Waste Drum Storage Yard, underwent product recovery and is undergoing active in-situ bioremediation on a test basis. The rest of the facility does not pose a problem, but as an extra precaution, a site-wide monitoring program has also been established to monitor surface water and groundwater.

The facility also operated a permitted hazardous waste storage area in Building 830. The facility still temporarily stores hazardous waste at this location, but it is now regulated as a generator.

Contaminants at this Facility

Various volatile organic compounds, including benzene, trichloroethene, and vinyl chloride, exceed New York State groundwater standards at several areas of the facility. Dense non-aqueous phase liquid is also present at a Former Fire Training area. Soil contamination is present above state criteria in several areas and consists of contaminants similar to those found in the groundwater. However, there are no potential human exposure pathways from the contaminated soils.

The presence of 24-hour military base security and physical barriers (e.g., the surrounding fence and the airport runways to the south) prevent casual access to the site by residents or trespassers. Additionally, the Former Fire Training Pit, the only area of the facility found to have elevated levels of surface soil contamination, is located in the Military Restricted Area. Contamination has not migrated off-site. On-site sampling of indoor air on September 9, 2000 identified 17 compounds, all of which were found to be at concentrations well below current occupational exposure levels. 

Responsibility at this Facility

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is responsible for administering the Corrective Action Program under a NYS Part 373 Hazardous Waste Facility Permit.

The 6NYCRR Part 373 permit was last renewed on February 2, 1996 and expired on January 31, 2001. As of July 2001, the facility obtained the status of a large quantity generator, because it currently stores hazardous wastes for less than 90 days. However, the Corrective Action module of the 6NYCRR Part 373 Permit remains in effect. A permit renewal, which will contain only a Corrective Action module, was public noticed on December 24, 2003. It was issued on July 14, 2004. It was renewed March 9, 2010.