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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Tecumseh Redevelopment Incorporated in Lackawanna, New York

On this page:

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

Cleanup Status 

The site is managed under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) program, encompassing numerous contaminated areas located primarily in the slag fill area of the property. Several NYSDEC Orders on Consent, executed with Tecumseh since 2004, require cleanup actions.

While the site investigation and evaluation of remedial alternatives were in progress, four interim remedial measures were implemented. A groundwater pump and treat system was installed in the Benzol Yard in 2005 and continues to treat dissolved-phase contaminated groundwater and collect free product.

Approximately 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment was removed from the lower reach of Smokes Creek in 2009, addressing contamination attributable to historical discharges from former Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s (BSC) operations. It also improved the hydraulic capacity of the stream, reducing flooding potential in the City of Lackawanna.

A large oil storage tank was cleaned out, removed and closed in 2009.

Cleanup actions at the Acid Tar Pits included installation of a slurry wall, waste consolidation, and leachate and groundwater extraction with treatment. Final cleanup at the Acid Tar Pits, including consolidation and capping are being completed.  Final enhancement of the Aid Tar Pits groundwater remedy, including groundwater extraction outside of the slurry wall, is underway.

Contaminated groundwater in the Coke Oven Area will be collected using a network of 11 existing pumping wells and 39 new pumping wells and treated in a new treatment plant that is being constructed as the cleanup remedy for the area. Groundwater will be treated by air stripping and granular activated carbon filtering, and will be reinjected to help control the movement, collection and treatment of contaminated groundwater.

A study is in progress to identify and evaluate alternatives to address contamination throughout the area being managed under the NYSDEC RCRA program. The NYSDEC had required an expanded investigation of site wide groundwater contamination, geophysical/slope stability analysis of the shoreline, additional investigation activities and interim cleanup at several areas. Selection and implementation of additional cleanup measures will follow once the study is approved.

 A portion of the Tecumseh property was parceled off and cleanup and redevelopment are being administered through the NYSDEC Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP). There are presently five BCP phased projects and associated sub-parcels designated at the site to facilitate investigation, cleanup, and redevelopment. The Steel Winds wind farm project is complete and contains 14 wind turbines and supporting power generation equipment and infrastructure. The Phase I project is ready for redevelopment. Several Phase III sub-parcels are being redeveloped and used for steel pipe manufacturing, rail to truck lumber storage and loading facility, and a solar farm.  The remaining phased projects and sub-parcels are in various stages of cleanup.

 Site Description

Tecumseh Redevelopment Inc. (Tecumseh) owns approximately 1,100 acres of property located along NYS Route 5, adjacent to Lake Erie, in Lackawanna. The property comprises a significant portion of the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s (BSC) Lackawanna facility.

The site includes what remains of a sprawling former integrated steel manufacturing complex. The iron and steel making blast furnaces shut down in 1983. Coke production continued until 2001. Steel rolling and galvanizing continued until 2009. While some buildings remain, most structures have been razed.

The western portion of the site, that includes approximately two miles of Lake Erie waterfront, consists of a considerable area of manmade land (approximately 440 acres) where iron and steel making slag and plant wastes were disposed.

In 2001, BSC filed for bankruptcy protection. Tecumseh, then a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Steel Group (ISG), acquired the property pursuant to an Asset Purchase Agreement that was approved by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in 2003. Tecumseh thereafter assumed the related cleanup obligations at the Tecumseh Property. Tecumseh is a wholly–owned subsidiary of ArcelorMittal USA Inc., an international steel company.

Contaminants at this Facility

An EPA Administrative Order on Consent required BSC to perform an environmental investigation of the site and it was completed by Tecumseh in 2006. Investigations showed contamination of soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediment. The most significant contamination is associated with the wastes and releases from the historic coking and coke by-product operations. Benzene, naphthalene, and phenols are the primary groundwater contaminants. The chemicals of concern from the waste materials include metals, and volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, including petroleum.

Responsibility at this Facility

Several New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Orders on Consent were executed with Tecumseh addressing closure and cleanup at the site, pursuant to the New York Environmental Conservation Law and the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations. Portions of the site are being addressed pursuant to NYSDEC Brownfield Cleanup Agreements.