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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: CWM Chemical Services, LLC in Model City, New York

On this page:

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

Cleanup Status 

CWM implemented interim corrective measures (ICMs) at site locations where significant soil or groundwater contamination has been observed. The purpose of the ICMs was to minimize the spread of the contamination and, ultimately, to improve groundwater quality in the affected areas. The ICMs listed below have subsequently been adopted as final corrective measures:

  • Groundwater recovery systems operating at four areas (P12-2S, BW-2S, MW3-2S & PCB Warehouse).
  • An approximately 3,200 foot groundwater-interceptor trench installed around the West Drum and Lagoon areas.
  • In-situ stabilization and capping of eight lagoon and salts areas. Approximately 200,000 cubic yards of materials were proposed to be treated. Thus far, seven of the eight impoundments have been treated, and six of these have been capped.

The remedy focuses on the containment and recovery of contaminated groundwater at the CWM facility, in-place stabilization of wastes and capping of the Salts and Lagoon Areas, and maintenance of existing infiltration controls and remedial systems. The cleanup objectives are to prevent current and future exposure to contaminated groundwater and soils through treatment and/or containment, to reduce the migration of contaminants from soil to groundwater, and to reduce the migration of contaminants through the groundwater.

Site Description

The CWM facility is located at 1550 Balmer Road in northwestern New York State in Model City (the towns of Lewiston and Porter.) The property has been operated as a hazardous waste disposal area since 1972. Prior to 1972, the site property was used for a variety of industrial purposes. These purposes included:

  • 1942-1943: As part of the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works (LOOW), portions of the site were used for the manufacture of trinitrotoluene (TNT). During this period, highly acidic and toxic effluent was generated and stored at the site.
  • 1944-1946: As part of the Northeast Chemical Warfare Depot, portions of the site were used for temporary storage and shipment of ammunition and chemicals. The site was concurrently used in conjunction with the Manhattan Project (which conducted research associated with the development of the atomic bomb). 
  • 1946-1954: A part of the site was used by the Atomic Energy Commission for the storage and/or burial of radioactive materials. Considerable effort has been made by the U.S. government to locate radioactive areas at the site and to remove radioactive solid wastes.
  • 1955-1959: Areas of the site were used to bury and burn waste from U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy projects to develop high energy rocket fuels.

The property was sold to a real estate group in 1966 and was subsequently sold to Chem-Trol Pollution Services in 1972. Private industrial waste operations began at this site in 1972. Activities included reclamation of waste oils, distillation of waste solvents, aqueous waste treatment and land disposal.

In 1973, Chem-Trol was purchased by SCA Services, Inc. and in 1984 the site was acquired by an affiliate of Waste Management Incorporated (WMI). The facility is now owned by WMI, and it has been operated since 1988 by CWM, an affiliate of WMI. Current operations at the facility include waste receiving areas, storage and mixing tanks, drum handling and stabilization, chemical treatment facilities, biological treatment impoundments, and secure landfills.

Contaminants at this Facility

As required by state and federal hazardous waste regulations, CWM has investigated over 80 solid waste management units (SWMUs) and areas of concern at the Model City facility. Based upon the investigations, it has been determined that hazardous waste constituents have been released to the fill/soil and groundwater beneath the facility. Contaminants include volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds and polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs).

The most significant area of contamination is located in the Lagoons, West Drum and Process Areas. Evaluation of possible sources indicated that Lagoons 1, 2 and 5 and/or former tank and container storage areas in and adjacent to the process area were the principle source of the contamination. Other areas of contamination are related to past container and leachate handling practices and activities during the federal government's ownership of the property. None of the observed contamination has been attributed to releases from the operation of any of CWM's eleven hazardous waste landfills at the site.

Because of the long-term potential for off-site migration, the contaminated groundwater is the principle threat to human health and the environment at the CWM facility. However, groundwater contamination has not migrated off-site. Additionally, areas of significant groundwater contamination have had remedial measures installed. Monitoring of the remedial systems indicate that most of the contamination has been contained. Groundwater migration rates average four inches per year, limiting the further migration.

As part of the corrective measures study for this facility, a risk assessment was completed. The only significant potential exposure points would be direct contact with surface soils by on-site workers and construction workers; contact with subsurface soils by construction workers and contaminated site groundwater by construction workers. If personal protective equipment is used by current and future workers, these exposure pathways would be eliminated.

Additional information on the risk assessment can be found in the "Site-wide Corrective Measures Study, Model City TSD Facility, Rust Environment & Infrastructure, January 1995" at the New York State Department of Conservation office. 

Site Responsibility at this Facility

The corrective action program is regulated by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) under its 6 NYCRR Part 373 Permit No. 9-2911-00110/00015-0.

The facility currently has a 6 NYCRR part 373 (Final Status) operating and post-closure permit, which was originally issued in September 1989. The permit underwent a major modification on January 31, 2001, to incorporate the selection of final corrective measures to address the presence of contamination at the facility.