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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: AGFA Corporation - Peerless Photo Products in Shoreham, New York

On this page:

  • Cleanup Status
  • Site Description
  • Contaminants at this Facility
  • Institutional/Engineering Control
  • Land Reuse
  • Site Responsibility

Cleanup Status                         

During the investigation, a total of 13 areas of potential concerns and groundwater were investigated. Metals were detected in some of the areas of potential concerns. Five of the areas of potential concerns were found to require remediation.

Interim remedial measures were performed at the site at two areas of potential concerns during remedial investigation to address contamination. The interim remedial measures at area of potential concern No. 8 was to grout and seal a soil boring that was installed through the floor of the emulsion building sump and the interim remedial measures at area of potential concern No. 9 included excavation and offsite disposal of contaminated soils in the water meter room pit. The excavation was then backfilled and then finished with concrete and an impermeable surface.

The remaining soils requiring remediation were subject of a 2004 record of decision. Remediation was conducted in accordance with the record of decision and was completed in 2008. The remedy included:

  • Excavation and off-site disposal of soils contaminated with cadmium and silver
    from the west soil storage area, the north recharge basins area, the Long
    Island Power Authority (LIPA) right of way and injection well No. 4.
  • Excavation of soils contaminated with cadmium and silver from the Tesla Tower
    Base to a depth of 30 feet and off-site disposal.
  • Reuse of the off-site soils containing silver below 300 parts per million from LIPA right of way to back fill the north recharge basins.

While some contaminated soils have been left in place, these soils are subsurface and do not represent a complete exposure pathway. All homes in the area are supplied with public water, which is regularly tested to ensure that it meets New York State drinking water standards.

Groundwater samples were collected on eight occasions from on-site and off-site monitoring wells between 1994 and 2002. The extent to which cadmium was consistently present in groundwater at concentrations exceeding the applicable standards appeared to be restricted to a small contiguous network of monitoring wells starting at monitoring well No. 6, located at the southern, upgradient portion of the site and terminating at a location downgradient of off-site monitoring well No. 2, and upgradient of off-site monitoring well No. 7S.

The trends observed in groundwater quality in site monitoring wells demonstrate the conditions are improving naturally. The 2004 record of decision for this site selected monitoring with institutional controls as the remedy for groundwater. The 2008 site management plan calls for semi-annual monitoring of wells from upgradient, within the contaminant plume and down gradient. As stated in the record of decision, the purpose of this monitoring is to evaluate the effectiveness of the on-site remedy and to verify that the off-site plume does not adversely affect public health or the environment.    

Site Description

The site is located on approximately 16.2 acres in a predominantly residential area. The site was originally developed in 1903 when Nikola Tesla constructed a building that served as a residence and a laboratory. Mr. Tesla also constructed a radio tower on the site which was demolished between 1917 and 1918. The octagonal base of the tower formed a pit. The foundation of the former radio tower is called the Tesla Tower Base, and it is approximately 90 feet in diameter and 120 feet deep. The Tesla Tower Base may have been used until 1973 for the disposal of unknown materials.

Peerless Photo Products Inc. began operations at the site in 1939. In 1969, Agfa-Gaevert, Inc. purchased Peerless Photo Products. From 1939 to 1979, Peerless Photo Products disposed of untreated process water into 800-foot-long by 25-foot-wide recharge basins, referred as the North Recharge Basins. The process water contained the metals such as silver, cadmium, lead and other compounds.

In 1979, an industrial wastewater treatment plant was constructed and a State Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit was issued to discharge treated effluent into the north recharge basins. The process water discharges ceased in 1987 as manufacturing activities at the site were discontinued. Chemical processing equipment at the plant was then either cleaned or removed from the site. 

The area inside the foundation walls is now level and vegetated. The site is currently vacant and the entire site is enclosed by a six-foot-high chain link fence. AGFA contractors visit the site several times per week for maintenance purposes. Current land use of the site is industrial, although both residential and nonresidential use may be possible in the future.

Contaminants at this Facility

Metals: silver, cadmium, lead.

Site Responsibility at this Facility

Investigation and remediation were conducted under the jurisdiction of NYSDEC’s inactive hazardous waste site program. Sitewide soil was remediated under a record of decision issued by NYSDEC in 2004. This remediation was completed in 2008.   Contamination remains under existing structures.

Information on the Peerless Photo Products under a State Superfund program can be found in a Remedial Site Database Search . A site record will be displayed when a site code 152031 is entered in a search method #1.

Plant operation was conducted under the jurisdiction of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste program. Contamination remaining under the buildings is subject to the RCRA corrective action program.

The facility operated under interim RCRA permit status from 1980 until it discontinued operations in 1987. Although the plant is not actively operating, it is still considered an interim status facility. Therefore, RCRA corrective action requirements apply to the contamination remaining under the plant buildings.