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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 18, 2008

If $3M secured, old depot landfill may be capped

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — The southern landfill at the former Army depot, on property now occupied the Northeastern Industrial Park, may be capped and covered if $3 million in federal funds can be secured.

Area of Concern 1, as it has been labeled, has the highest concentration of health risks of the nine areas identified by the Army Corps of Engineers, said George Moreau, of Parsons engineering firm, at a meeting earlier this month of the Restoration Advisory Board. 

A groundwater plume underneath the landfill has been contaminated with volatile organic compounds, Moreau said.  Between that and a nearby pond that has contaminants, he said, the water is dangerous to drink, although neither are a source for drinking water.

“This is a flood plain, though,” Charles Rielly said after pointing out that there are heavy metals in the pond water that are not part of the cleanup plan.  Rielly, a Guilderland resident, co-chairs the Restoration Advisory Board, which has provided a forum for residents, state and local officials, and the Corps to discuss the investigation and cleanup of the former depot.

The pond is about 1,500 feet from the main channel of the Black Creek, which feeds the Watervliet Reservoir, Guilderland’s major source of drinking water.

Moreau had said that the Corps felt confident that the water wasn’t going to move anywhere.  Chemicals are very mobile as compared to metals, said John Swartwout of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, so chemicals pose more of a risk.

The four options for cleanup outlined by Moreau ranged from no action, as option number one, to the Corps’ recommended action, number four, which includes a landfill cap and soil cover, chemical oxidation treatment of the groundwater, carbon treatment of surface water, and land-use controls.  The estimated cost for that alternative is $3 million.

Dec. 27 is the official due date for public comments on the cleanup method, but Gregory Goepfert, the project manager for the Corps, said that he would accept anything that he receives before Jan. 9.

“You’ve got to respond to this guy now,” said Ted Ausfeld, the board’s other co-chair, after the meeting.  “This is what we’ve worked for [over] the last 10 or 12 years.”  Ausfeld and Rielly are both Guilderland residents who have been heavily involved with the cleanup of the former Army Depot — Ausfeld worked in the town’s water plant for decades before recently retiring.

The depot opened in 1941, covering about 650 acres, and closed in 1969, leaving behind unrecorded refuse.  Cleanup has been limited by lack of federal funds.

Detailed information on the project and contact information to submit comments can be found at www.fsadva.com.

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