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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Cherokee Columbus Real Estate, LLC in Bainbridge, New York

On this page:

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

Cleanup Status                         

Extensive soil, sediment and groundwater investigations were conducted to evaluate all Solid Waste Management Units. Data collected from hundreds of soil/sediment samples and 40 groundwater monitoring wells were used to define the extent of hazardous waste contamination side-wide. Several remedial actions were conducted between 1995 and 2002, such as the removal and off-site disposal of approximately 2,400 tons of waste resin and contaminated soil, the removal of sewer lines, and the (ongoing) treatment of approximately 6.75 million gallons of contaminated groundwater.

All known major source areas of contaminated soils and sediments have been removed through excavation or sewer clean-out. All buildings have been demolished. Final corrective measures were implemented in the fall of 1999 to address the remaining contamination at the site. These actions included:

  • Removing of the remainder of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated soil with disposal off-site;
  • Preventing contaminated groundwater from migrating off-site through the installation of a pump-and-treat system combined with source removal from the Phenol Recovery Area;
  • Removing PCB-contaminated sediments from the remaining sewer lines;
  • Removing contaminated soil and sediments from a former lagoon located on the shore of the Susquehanna River;
  • Instituting long-term groundwater monitoring;
  • Implementing institutional controls such as deed restrictions.

The pump-and-treat system with above-ground bioremediation was implemented to address volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contamination (primarily toluene and phenol) in the Phenol Recovery Area in July 1995, and continues today. Treated water is discharged in accordance with a New York State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit to Beatty Creek. Semi-annual groundwater monitoring reports have been submitted since 1995. Monitoring wells within the plume area have indicated a significant reduction in contaminant concentrations since January 1, 2003.

To address the remaining contamination in the Phenol Recovery Area, a pilot study consisting of in-situ bioremediation and air sparging was begun on April 10, 2001. An assessment of the effectiveness of the pilot was conducted for a year. Groundwater data from the air sparging system along with the most recent semi-annual groundwater report submitted in February 2002 were evaluated and it was determined that the pilot was not effective in treating the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contamination.

Cherokee has proposed to conduct a limited investigation in the Phenol Recovery Area to determine the extent of any remaining source materials. The contaminated soils will be excavated, treated ex-situ and used for backfill on-site. The contaminated groundwater from the excavation will be treated through the existing pump-and-treat system. Based on historical results, Cherokee feels that this action will lower groundwater contaminant concentrations to acceptable levels for closure.

Site Description

Cherokee Columbus Real Estate is located on the 210-acre site, 10 acres of which were occupied by manufacturing facilities, and was operated by Borden, Inc., from the 1940s until 1981. The site is bounded to the north by an undeveloped and vegetated area, to the south by New York State Route 7 and the Susquehanna River, to the west by Mount Pleasant and Western Creek, and to the east by Guilford Road. The facility ceased operations in March 1981. Since that date, building demolition and environmental remediation have been implemented by the former and present owners.

In December 1997, the site was acquired from Borden, Inc. by Cherokee Columbus Real Estate, LLC. As part of the acquisition, Cherokee assumed the environmental liability and is now responsible for completing the cleanup. Borden manufactured synthetic resins such as phenol-formaldehyde, urea-formaldehyde, melamine-formaldehyde and polyvinyl acetate in large reactor vessels. These resins were used in the production of plywood and fiberboard, as well as molding materials for electrical devices such as telephones and circuit breakers. As a result of past waste management practices, hazardous wastes and hazardous constituents have contaminated the soil, groundwater and sediments of nearby Beatty Creek and Susquehanna River. 

Contaminants at this Facility

Investigations conducted at this facility by Cherokee and the former owners showed elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the soils and sediment, and elevated levels of phenol and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the soils, sediment and near-surface groundwater. Bedrock groundwater has not been impacted, based upon information collected to date.

Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated sediments are also located in storm sewers and in a former lagoon adjacent to the Susquehanna River. However, the PCBs, volatile organic compounds and phenol contaminants do not currently pose a threat to human health (see below).

There are no potential or current threats to human health. The site’s boundary is fenced and all buildings have been demolished.

The contamination at the facility poses no threat to the surrounding population. Local residents are served by a municipal water supply, and there are no groundwater production wells within the contaminant plume. Sampling of nearby residential wells was performed in 2000 and 2001 as part of an agreement between New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and Borden. Analysis for volatile organics, phenols, and polychlorinated biphenyls showed no contaminants concentrations exceed the New York State’s groundwater standards.

The phenol and toluene contamination also appear to be predominantly contained within the top 10 feet of the soil and 30 feet of the groundwater. Soil contaminant levels do not exceed EPA’s soil ingestion risk-based criteria, but do exceed New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s impact-to-groundwater criteria, and therefore are considered to be a likely continuing source of groundwater contamination.

Site Responsibility at this Facility

The facility has an Interim Status and is currently closed. Final measures will be performed in accordance with the Consent Order on Consent, Article 27 Title 13 issued by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) on November 21, 1990, and amended on September 18, 2000.