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Record of decision issued on J&L

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STAR LAKE — The state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a record of decision on 18 acres of the contaminated 54-acre Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. property, another piece completed toward eventual reuse of the property.

“It’s certainly a nice accomplishment,” said town of Fine Supervisor Mark C. Hall, a member of the county Industrial Development Agency. “It’s one segment done, and let’s keep moving ahead. We’re attacking the site in manageable steps.”

At a public session in March on the agency’s environmental management plan for the site, DEC environmental engineer James E. Candiloro suggested the record of decision would come quickly unless there were objections.

Measures selected by the DEC include maintaining a site cover, such as pavement or grass, development for commercial or industrial uses only, periodic certification of institutional and engineering requirements, and a site management plan that identifies all restrictions and controls.

The 18 acres was found minimally contaminated compared to the remainder of the property which is destined to become a Superfund site. The DEC and St. Lawrence County decided to carve out the 18 acres as an easier path to a release of liability for any contamination on that section.

That remains in the works, County Attorney Michael C. Crowe said.

“We’re waiting to hear back from two agencies on whether a release will be made,” he said.

The state Comptroller’s Office, which controls an oil spill fund, and the DEC, which is responsible for hazardous waste other than oil, must give their stamps of approval on a release before the county is willing to take title.

The county once briefly had title to the property so it could transfer it to its last known owner, a Canadian developer now deceased, so it is part of the chain that could technically be held responsible for cleanup even though it had nothing to do with contaminating the property.

“That’s why we want a release,” Mr. Crowe said.

The state may be wary about a release of liability to avoid setting a precedent, but Mr. Hall argues it is the only way to make the site — one of only a handful zoned industrial in the Adirondack Park — viable again.

“To me, this is a pretty unique situation,” he said.

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