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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Arch Chemicals Incorporated in Rochester, New York

On this page:

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

Cleanup Status                         

Arch installed both an overburden and bedrock groundwater recovery system in 1983 and has installed monitoring and groundwater recovery wells to reduce contaminated groundwater migration. There are approximately 23 monitoring wells and seven extraction wells on-site and 30 monitoring wells off-site. A study by Arch in January 2000 showed that there were deficiencies in the existing capture system. Based on the study, a Proposed Remediation Action Plan was released for public comment in March 2002.

A Record of Decision (ROD), which details what remedial work will be required, was subsequently issued by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in March 2002. The ROD, which addresses groundwater contamination from the facility, calls for additional wells to be installed to enhance capture in the bedrock. One of these wells will be designed to capture contaminated groundwater before it reaches the dolomite quarry. Additionally, a groundwater interceptor trench will be installed along the southwest corner of the facility to enhance overburden groundwater capture. A future ROD is planned to address soil contamination.

Site Description

The site is approximately 15.3 acres and located at 100 McKee Road in southwestern Rochester in an industrial complex, New York. The site has been used for manufacturing since 1948 when Genessee Research, a subsidiary of Puritan Company, established the plant and produced automotive specialty products such as brake fluid and antifreeze specialty organic chemicals.

Olin Corporation acquired the plant in 1954 (as Mathieson Chemical Corporation) and continued to manufacture brake fluid and antifreeze. In 1963, Olin began production of chloropyridine, a compound used in the making of shampoo. This plant is still in operation. Historic plant operations and releases contributed to contamination of soil and groundwater.

In February 1999, Olin Corp. spun off its specialty chemicals group and formed a new company, Arch Chemicals, Inc., which currently owns and operates this site. 

Contaminants at this Facility

Site investigations have indicated that historic plant operations have contributed to contaminated soils and groundwater. The sources of the contamination include leaking sewers, process wash water overflows, leakage from unlined tank farm dikes, a rail car unloading area, on-site disposal of lab samples and drum releases or spills. These sources caused the release of volatile organic compounds such as chloropyridine, fluoroanaline, chloroethenes, carbon tetrachloride, methylene chloride, chloroform and toluene.

The contamination from these compounds have been identified at concentrations above environmental standards at the facility and in groundwater that has migrated beyond the facility boundary. Groundwater contamination is present in both the bedrock and the overburden, which is that material above the bedrock. The site has been fenced to restrict access and any contaminated soil on-site has been paved over or is in the subsurface.

Excavation work at the facility could allow the volatilization of contaminants into facility buildings. The company's Arch Plant Site Excavation Policy, which spells out the proper precautions and procedures to be used when excavations are performed, has been implemented at the facility. The Excavation Policy addresses the potential direct exposure of workers to contaminated groundwater and soils, however, the volatilization of vapors from groundwater into buildings remains a potential exposure pathway.

Chloropyridine has been found at the Gates Dolomite Quarry, approximately 4,000 feet southwest of the facility. Water from the quarry is discharged to the Erie Canal. A risk assessment found that contaminant concentrations in the canal do not pose a risk to human health. However, quarry workers can be potentially exposed through contact with the groundwater during maintenance of the quarry's pumps. The quarry owners have been notified of the risk, were told to take appropriate precautions, and are kept updated. A health and safety plan is under development by Gates. Arch will continue periodic monitoring of the canal. There are no private wells in the vicinity of the site and the area is served by a public water system. 

Site Responsibility at this Facility

Formerly Olin applied for a RCRA Hazardous Waste Part A Permit Application in 1980 to operate hazardous waste tank and container storage areas. In 1989, Olin closed the hazardous waste tank and container storage areas, submitted closure certifications, and requested that its Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) status be changed. Corrective action at the site is proceeding under the New York State Order on Consent, Article 27, Title 13.