October 31, 2008

Gun Site Clean Up Standards Raise Concerns

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Overruling the Community Advisory Group it created, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will back the standards supported by the developers of the Ithaca Gun Factory site for its remediation.
The Ithaca Gun Factory site, located above Ithaca Falls and the Fall Creek Gorge, is contaminated with a range of harmful substances. This past May, the DEC — working with the City of Ithaca, developer Frost Travis and the engineering firm hired by the Travis, O’Brien and Gere — announced a resolution for the site for the demolition, clean up and construction of a public park and residential housing.
In order to also address community concerns, the DEC founded the CAG soon after the announcement of the resolution.
Community members have expressed concern that the standards to which the developers intend to remediate the site may not be high enough — despite their compliance with DEC regulations — to prevent posing a hazard to the public. Members of the community voiced such concerns Monday night during a meeting of the Fall Creek Neighborhood Association.
According to The Ithaca Journal, CAG has called for a remediation resulting in lead levels at 63 parts-per-million, an “unrestricted use” standard, due to the site’s intended uses as a park and housing development. The group has also called for construction material recycled on site to be tested every 100 cubic yards of material.
DEC Environmental Engineer Gary Holmes and Regional Director Ken Lynch, both present at Monday’s meeting, claimed that the 400 parts-per-million lead standard proposed by O’Brien and Gere and the testing standard for construction material at every 1,000 cubic yards both met the DEC’s regulations as “protective of public health and the environment,” according to The Journal.
The lead standard of 400 ppm was used by the Environmental Protection Agency in its partial clean up of the site in 2002-2003. Yet, some members of the Ithaca community have described this effort as incomplete and irresponsible.
Additionally, CAG member Walter Hang, president of Toxics Targeting, a man considered largely responsible for the discovery of the contamination and subsequent efforts at its remediation, noted that the EPA tests material to be recycled every eight feet, according to The Journal.
Travis told The Sun an optimistic date for the housing development’s completion is late 2009 or mid-2010. But, according to a project file of the Ithaca Gun site provided by the New York State Department of Health, demolition was slated to begin in early August. According to The Journal, the DEC’s timeline indicated demolition to begin in the next couple weeks, but cold weather may delay this process further.