For the last 30 years, Alfred Station has had a toxic dumpsite. It is on the federal government’s Superfund list but is not a priority to clean up.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), provides a federal “superfund” to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites, as well as accidents, spills and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment.
Alfred Station is home to a Superfund site. In 1991, Patton’s Busy Bee Disposal Service, a disposable company, was told to close their landfill due to hazardous waste. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation the respondent (Patton’s Busy Bee) had allegedly stored waste tires in excess of 1,000 tires and had accepted waste, both in violation of Solid Waste Management facilities general requirements, and failed to comply with a provision of an Order on Consent which required closure of the landfill. The landfill also showed evidence of contamination in the groundwater. The groundwater monitoring results submitted from 1987 to 1991 indicate that the groundwater at the site is contaminated by volatile organic chemicals, including trichloroethylene and trans-1,2-dichloroethylene in both the shallow and deep wells, on the western and southwestern sides of the facility. The record shows that Patton’s Busy Bee violated the Orders on Consent by failing to submit groundwater monitoring results for seven sampling dates in 1991, 1992 and 1993.
The organic volatile chemicals listed are colorless liquids used to remove parts, paints, glues, and spot removers. In 1970, these chemicals were banned by the FDA due to the fact that they could cause liver and cervix cancer. These chemicals have no business being in the groundwater within a mile of the Alfred wells that are used for tap water.
Having stored over 1,000 old tires and having volatile organic chemicals in the groundwater, this poses a harmful threat to our environment. The tires that are being stored are susceptible to starting fires. Fires started by tires contain acid smoke, which is harmful to humans and would also leave behind an oily residue. Tires are typically dumped in low-income areas. Alfred is a remote town surrounded by wilderness and barren land, perfect for hiding hazardous waste. The proper way to dispose of these tires would have been to recycle them.
With the coming of the new year in January, we will be “celebrating” the 30th anniversary of these violations. As written in the documents by the Department of Environmental Conservation, the landfill was directed to maintain and monitor the closed landfill and to submit monitoring reports in accordance with Solid Waste Management facilities general requirements for 30 years from the date of this order.
This site is still a current Superfund site but is not listed on the National Priorities List. This landfill was posing multiple contaminated hazardous wastes on its grounds. The last action taken at this site was February of 2011. There has not been an inspection of the site and it is still listed as incomplete.
Alfred and the greater upstate of New York is home to beautiful views of nature and wilderness. This tragic act of holding old tires and volatile chemicals in the groundwater is an act of betrayal on this beautiful soil. Actions should be put in motion to finish cleaning up this site and restore the land to its fullest capability.
By Frank DePalma