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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Frontier Chemical Waste Process Incorporated – Royal Avenue Site in Niagara Falls, New York

On this page:

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

Cleanup Status 

Corrective Action is complete at this site with the exception of a long term pump and treat system to treat leachate from an on-site containment area. This is evaluated annually with groundwater monitoring.

A locked gate and fencing limit public access to the site. Private well water and basement sump water sampling by New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) in 1992 and 1993 did not find contamination from the site. Human exposures via drinking water are not expected because all local residences are now connected to public water there is no evidence of off-site groundwater contamination. The levels of chemicals found in off-site surface soil samples collected by NYSDOH in 1992, 1993, and 1994 represent no health concern. Bull Creek water and sediment analyses are not contaminated with site-related chemicals.

NYSDOH completed an exposure survey in July 1994 which concluded that no significant exposure pathways exist. The November 1996 NYSDOH cancer incidence study concluded that overall cancer incidence was similar to expected for males and females. Dermal contact by trespassers to contaminated surface soils in the former process area and air exposures have been eliminated with the newly installed cap.

Groundwater is contained on site as evidenced by groundwater monitoring reports.

A Final Supplemental Remedial Investigation Report was submitted for the Former Frontier Chemical Waste Process in November 2002.

A Remedial Action Work Plan (RAWP) submitted for Operable Unit-1 was approved by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in January 2006.  A ROD was issued in 2006 for the site.  The selected soil remedy consisted of excavation, trucking, and off-Site treatment/disposal of source area soil at a permitted waste facility.  Between 2008 and 2010, the Frontier Group performed pre-design investigation activities associated with the soil remedy, resulting in an improved understanding of Site conditions compared with that available at the time the ROD was issued.

A positive Human Exposure under Control (CA725) was achieved on 6/6/2006.

A Proposed Remedial Plan (PRP) was prepared by NYSDEC Division of Environmental Remediation in February 2011 was intended to attain the remedial action objectives identified for this site for the protection pf public health and the environment.  The PRAP identified the preferred remedy, summarizes the other alternative considered, and discussed the reasons for the preferred remedy.  A Remedial Investigation (RI) had been conducted to define the nature and extent of any contamination resulting from previous activities at the site.

A ROD was prepared by NYSDEC in consultation with New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) in March 2011 to select final remedial alternative to remediate Operable Unit-2 (OU-2).   The elements of the selected remedy are as follows:
1. Development of a long-term plan to monitor the natural attenuation process, and determine
its effectiveness at restoring deep bedrock groundwater quality.
2. Imposition of an institutional control in the form of an environmental easement for the
controlled property that:
a. requires the remedial party or site owner to complete and submit to the Department a
periodic certification of institutional controls in accordance with Part 375-1.8 (h)(3).
b. allows the use and development of the controlled property for industrial uses as defined
by Part 375-1.8(g), though land use is subject to local zoning laws;
c. restricts the use of groundwater as a source of potable or process water, without
necessary water quality treatment as determined by the Department, NYSDOH or County DOH;
d. prohibits agriculture or vegetable gardens on the controlled property;

A FFS, which was submitted by the Frontier Group in November 2011 to re-evaluate the soil remediation alternatives for the site, concluded that the remedial alternative consisting of excavation and on-site thermal treatment of source area was superior remedy to the ROD-selected remedy.

A Positive Release to Groundwater (CA750) was achieved on 11/1/2012.

A Remedy Construction Completed (CA550) sitewide was achieved on 8/25/2014.

A Ready for Anticipated Used Form (CA800) was completed on 10/15/2014.

A Record of Decision (ROD) for Operable Unit No. 1 (OU-1) was issued in March 2006. The remedy called for removal of above grade structures and debris, excavation and off-site disposal of soils containing VOCs greater than 100 ppm, soil or asphalt cover system, groundwater control/treatment, a Site Management Plan, an Environmental Easement, Long-term Operation, Monitoring, and Maintenance, and periodic certification of the controls. A ROD Amendment was issued in March 2012 which revised the remedy from off-site disposal to on-site thermal treatment. A ROD for Operable Unit No. 2 was issued in March 2011. The ROD called for development of a long-term plan to monitor the natural attenuation process. Beginning in March 2013 a remedial action was implemented by the PRP group in accordance with the March 2012 ROD amendment. This work was completed in December of that year. Reports documenting the results of the remedial work were approved in 2014 with a Certificate of Completion (CoC)  issued August 15, 2014. The CoC requires compliance with the Site Management Plan and restrictions for industrial use only.  Long term monitoring is on-going.

A Consent on Order was signed between NYSDEC and Frontier Chemical on March 27, 2013 to enforce compliance to the condition set forth in the Remedial Action Work Plan, The RODs dated March 18, 2011 and March 28, 2012.

An Environmental Easement (EE) was granted, as part of an Institutional and Engineering Controls to Frontier Chemical on March 31, 2014 in accordance with NYSDEC approved Site Management Plan (SMP) as described in 6NYCRR Part 375-1.8(g)(2(iv).

Site Description

Frontier Chemical Waste Process facility is located in a heavy industrial/commercial area. Several large industrial facilities surround the facility. The closest residential area is located about ½ mile west and the closest off-site building is located 300 feet away. The Niagara River lies within one mile south of Frontier.

The site dates back to 1906 when it was owned and operated by the International Minerals and Chemical Company as a caustic chlorine (mercury cell) production plant. Sludge ponds associated with this operation were utilized for liquid sludge disposal from caustic soda production. Although these ponds have been removed, they may have contributed to the contamination of the site.

Frontier Chemical Waste Process, Inc. moved its operations from its Pendleton location (EPA #NYD991292053) to Royal Avenue in Niagara Falls. Between 1974 and 1992, Frontier Chemical operated a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) facility at the site at which a wide variety of listed and characteristic hazardous wastes were stored and treated.

Contaminants at this Facility

The site contaminants are mainly volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) to the lesser degree. The most concentrated contamination is located well below the ground surface where public contact with wastes is unlikely. The site is fenced and secured which minimizes the potential for public exposures to on-site contamination.

The surrounding area of the site is mostly industrial. The majority of the buildings on the Site have been demolished, although some smaller buildings and structures remain. The Site is completely fenced and the majority of the surface of the site is covered by either concrete or blacktop. Several large areas of demolition debris also occupy areas on the surface of the site.

The nearest residence is approximately about ½ mile west of the site and is supplied with public water. There are no private wells in the immediate area, so exposures via drinking water, are not expected. Vapor intrusion should not be an issue because where the plume has spread off site, it is intercepted by the adjacent Falls Street and New Road tunnels, and thus there is no off-site contaminant plume. High concentrations of organic contaminants exist in soil and groundwater.

Non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPL) have been found in both the overburden and bedrock groundwater. NAPL has also been detected immediately adjacent to the unlined Falls Street Tunnel. NAPL will continue to act as a source of groundwater contamination. Since many of the VOCs are denser than water, it is likely that the NAPL is a dense NAPL (i.e., DNAPL).  Samples of DNAPL were obtained in 1988 from two wells in the B-Zone (see page 6 for zone description).
The site was divided into two Operable Units (OUs): OU1 (overburden soils, overburden groundwater, and upper bedrock groundwater: A-Zone and B-Zone), and OU2 (deep bedrock groundwater: C-Zone, and deeper).

Overburden and upper bedrock groundwater contamination is effectively intercepted by the adjacent Falls Street and New Road tunnels. As such, there is no off-site contaminant "plume" associated with overburden and shallow bedrock groundwater contamination. The deeper bedrock groundwater characterization plan is addressed in the November 2007 Supplemental Soil Characterization and Pilot Test Work Plan.

Site Responsibility at this Facility

Record of Decision for Operable Unit #1 (OU1) was issued in March 2006, and a Consent Order for the Supplemental work, including an additional contaminated soils delineation for OU1 and Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study for Operable Unit #2 (OU2), was executed in August 2008, by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) with the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) group.

Hazardous Waste Disposal Period

From: 1906 To: 1992