GENEVA — The city is responsible for the cleanup of lead and arsenic from the soil at the former Geneva Foundry on Jackson Street.
In an update to City Council dated April 5, City Manager Matt Horn said a work plan was submitted to the state Department of Environmental Conservation last week for review and approval.
The DEC is responsible for cleanup in the neighborhoods surrounding the foundry site, and Horn said the city is pushing for expedited remediation effort.
Horn said he expects a public meeting in June to discuss remediation of the foundry property, which is owned by the city.
The city hopes the property can be sold and redeveloped after the cleanup.
“We expect the remediation will happen in August,” Horn said.
The plan calls for the removal of the top foot of soil on the property, disposal in an approved facility and replacement of the soil with clean soil cover.
A class action lawsuit against the city, Ontario County, the DEC and state Health Department as been filed on behalf of 136 property owners in the Foundry neighborhood.
One of them is City Councilor-at-Large Mark Gramling.
The basis of the claims is that the lead and arsenic contamination was known in the mid-1980s, but property owners were not notified until last fall, preventing them from taking action to avoid the contamination or make decisions to not buy a home in that neighborhood.
Horn said the city sent notices to the people who filed notices of claims against the city to schedule a 50-h hearing within 90 days.
Those hearings have been scheduled from April through June.
Other updates provided by Horn include:
DEC NEIGHBORHOOD REMEDIATION:
• The state has retained two consulting firms, Ecology & Environment and LaBella Associates, to complete the investigation and remediation.
• The DEC issued a fact sheet in March to all property owners in the neighborhoods.
• City staff met with Ecology & Environmental and DEC officials on Feb. 17, Feb. 29, March 13, March 23 and April 4.
They discussed the anticipated schedule, dissemination of information in English and Spanish to the residents, access to city property in the neighborhood for staging equipment used to remove, haul away and replace the contaminated soil and scheduling another public meeting.
DEC REMEDIATION SCHEDULE:
• Horn said 30 properties have been identified as priority sites, based on their use, such as day care facilities, proximity to the former foundry site and ability to secure access from the property owners.
• For those 30 properties, notices were sent March 15. Further investigation is needed to prepare a remediation plan. Those properties will be remediated first.
Horn said the city continues to push for an expedited schedule for remediation.
• Approximately 100 properties have been identified that need additional sampling. Notices were sent to those property owners March 21 and access is needed to sample and define the boundary of the remediation area.
• Other properties are supposed to get an updated letter. If such a letter is received, Horn said the property owners should send back the access authorization so DEC can start the process.
• DEC agreed to provide the city with weekly or bi-weekly scheduled updates.
• For April, a staging area will be set up on State Street across from the Geneva Peeps egg cooperative. A limited access agreement is being negotiated for the owners of that parcel.
• Consultants are completing property boundary surveys for residential properties.
• Consultants are sampling soils of residential properties. That will start Tuesday for field sampling and April 17 for geoprobe or underground sampling.
• Remediation work is scheduled to start in July.
“The city has no control over the neighborhood cleanup schedule and remains disappointed with the state’s proposed remediation schedule,” Horn said. “We continue to push for a quicker resolution by outreach to the DEC central office in Albany and the Region 8 director in Avon.”
He said once the initial rounds of sampling are completed and the consultants develop the work plans for the first round of residential areas, it’s expected “the schedule will move faster.”
“The city will continue to push for a more expedited schedule once the initial investigation work is completed,” Horn said.
A foundry operation at 23 Jackson St. began in 1868 and ended in 1988. During those 120 years, the foundry emitted lead, arsenic and other contaminants through its smokestacks, much of it landing on the foundry grounds and in the soils of surrounding residential neighborhoods.
The city acquired the property for back taxes in 1998 and entered it into the state’s environmental restoration program.
The foundry buildings were demolished and removed in 2005, leaving only slabs and foundations. It is zoned for commercial and industrial uses.
When operating, the foundry melted cast iron objects by burning processed coal or coke mixed in layers with scrap and unrefined iron.
Soil samplings in the mid-1980s revealed elevated levels of lead and arsenic in the soil on a handful of nearby properties. However, no warnings were issued to homeowners until last fall.