Major Step Forward in Effort to Clean Up 25 “Areas of Concern”

DEC field team visits Wallace Steel property at Assemblywoman Lifton’s request
June 7, 2007

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WFP- Tompkins/Cortland) announced that after 20 years of clean up delays, aggressive action is finally being taken into 25 “Areas of Concern” associated with historic drum disposal, toxic spills and pollution pathways at the former Morse Chain site in Ithaca.

Lifton said she had written to Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Alexander “Pete” Grannis asking for an investigation into these sites at the most aggressive pace possible. The Department of Environmental Conservation has begun testing procedures and has written to Emerson to require a response that in the DEC’s words will "...provide a more effective means of investigation and, ultimately, remediation of all on-site and off-site impacts associated with the site.”

Lifton has worked closely with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to require testing and protection of homes threatened by solvent contamination that was discovered more than 20 years ago, but has yet to be cleaned up. She also convened a landmark 2005 Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Hearing, where environmental and health officials testified that Ithaca's chlorinated solvent hazards represent a pervasive statewide problem.

“Since toxic pollution hazards at the Emerson Power Transmission factory were first brought to my attention in 2004, I have taken extensive action to make this site a top clean-up priority for the New York's Environmental and Health authorities,” Lifton said.

Lifton explained that the DEC specified three deadlines to require Emerson to investigate hazards at the Areas of Concern and to propose how to clean them up. Specifically, the DEC is asking Emerson to:

  • Complete all field work associated with a Supplemental Remediation Investigation at the Areas of Concern by 8/31/07;
  • Include the scope of the Feasibility Study in the Supplemental Remediation Investigation Report due by 10/31/07; and
  • Complete a Feasibility Study by 12/31/07.

“I think the fact that the DEC has put deadlines on when and how this clean up must take place is a huge step in the right direction,” Lifton said. “I am especially encouraged that Emerson must submit a Feasibility Study before the end of this year that will identify and evaluate a range of potential remedial alternatives for each Area of Concern.”

“I believe the DEC is addressing the urgent need to remediate Emerson's hazards on a comprehensive basis,” Lifton said. “I would like to thank all the residents in my district who continued to press for a full investigation and clean-up, as well as Commissioner Grannis for his immediate action on this matter. I look forward to working with the DEC to assure their aggressive schedule for investigation and remediation is adopted and strictly implemented.”