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Plans for Crown Cleaners site cleanup progressing

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HERRINGS — It has been 20 years since contamination was found at the former Crown Cleaners site on Route 3, but 2013 might be the year the cleanup is completed.

Much has happened behind the scenes with the proposed cleanup since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized its plan in April.

The town of Wilna has taken ownership of the property and applied for a grant to design a park once the cleanup is complete. The EPA has had a community involvement plan compiled and is working on a soil design work plan.

In order for the work to move forward, the town took ownership of the property at 3595 Route 3 on June 18.

“Herrings is a small village, so they asked the town to take the lead,” town Supervisor Paul H. Smith said.

In July, at the suggestion of Kathleen M. Amyot, River Area Council of Governments circuit rider, the Town Council applied for a grant through the state Consolidated Funding Application. If approved, the town will use money from the Environmental Protection Fund from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to hire a consultant to design a plan for use of the former Crown Cleaners site.

Ms. Amyot said the town will apply for $24,000 with $8,000 matching funds to be used to design a park that will interconnect with the downtown.

She said the state has not yet announced who will receive funding but she expects the awards to be made early in the new year.

Mr. Smith said all ideas for the proposed park will be considered, but he would like to see a “nice park with a picnic area” that has a river view and uses the waterway for boating or fishing. “There’s so many things we can use it for. I’ll be glad when it’s cleaned up. It’s been an issue since I was first elected. It’s an eyesore. Now that we’ve got the other two sites cleaned up, with this we’ll get the town back to looking nice,” Mr. Smith said.

The town recently had two buildings demolished, the Ashwood property, also known as Olley Apartments, at 43991 Route 3, Natural Bridge, and the Jug Bar & Grill, 35328 County Route 36, Munns Corners.

Michael J. Basile, EPA public affairs specialist, said the community involvement plan has been completed and will be available for public viewing after the holiday season. The plan will contain information about on-site activities, the remediation process, the history of the site and how to contact EPA representatives.

Work also is moving ahead for the on-site cleanup.

“We completed the demolition design work plan, which has been reviewed and approved,” Mr. Basile said. “Additional soil samples were taken on the site this fall as part of the soil design work plan. The soil design work plan has not been completed but should be finished in early 2013. The first activity at the site will be building demolition, which may occur in 2013.”

The 9-acre site was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency Superfund list in 1991 because of ground and water contamination from the former dry cleaning facility.

Tetrachloroethylene was found during the agency’s investigation in the 1990s. Trichloroethylene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, metals and pesticides also were detected there after the property was added to the EPA National Priorities List in 2002 and further testing was conducted. These compounds can cause cancer.

EPA finalized the plan for the site’s cleanup, which includes demolition of the main building, extraction of contaminated soil and sediment with volatile organic compounds, which will be disposed of at an off-site facility, and covering of soil containing polycyclic aromatic compounds with clean soil on site. In addition, the groundwater will be treated using oxidants and wetlands will be restored.

“Hopefully over the next year, if federal money is available, the plan will go through,” Mrs. Amyot said. She said she is encouraged by the support from the local representatives but pointed out that letter-writing campaigns work to help keep elected officials aware that the matter is of importance.

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