Remediation Begins at East Delavan Properties Site

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has begun remediation on a portion of the former American Axle site in the Delavan Grider community in Buffalo. Watch coverage on Channel 2 News.

The site at 1001 East Delavan Ave. is one of almost 400 contaminated sites in New York State that contain PCBs. PCB’s reference a group of chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls. PCB’s were used widely in electrical equipment like capacitors and transformers. PCB’s were banned by the Federal Government in 1979 due to the connections to cancer, liver damage and nerve problems. Once in the environment, PCBs can be transported long distances and they bind strongly to soil and sediment.

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In 1991, GM reported a spill to the DEC that led to the discovery of PCBs in oil beneath one of its manufacturing buildings. Three years later, GM found PCBs had leaked into a brick sewer line beneath the facility that feeds into Scajaquada Creek when the system is swamped by rain. According to state documents, up to 110,000 gallons of legacy wastes exists beneath the site. GM sold the site to American Axle in 1994, who manufactured automobile parts before declaring bankruptcy in 2009.

Developer Jon Williams, and East Delavan Properties purchased the contaminated property in 2008, beginning a tug of war with state officials on who was responsible for site remediation.

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In addition to the legacy waste, 1001 East Delavan is also home to new industrial manufacturers: Galvstar, who makes specialized galvanized steel and Niagara Lubricants, a lubricant manufacturer specializing in industrial and wholesale lubricants. Ontario Specialty Contracting Group (OSC) Manufacturing & Equipment Services, also owned by Williams, is based on this site.

Resident’s joined with Clean Air Coalition in 2015 to escalate pressure to expedite remediation. The American Axle Steering Committee formed, made up of resident’s living closest to the site. Steering Committee members had numerous meetings with the state, property owner, the City of Buffalo, and the Western New York Legislative Delegation over the course of 3 years. By the fall of 2018, their work paid off and the NYDEC announced that remediation on a 5 acre portion of the site will be initiated through a Superfund enforcement action.

A Pump and Treat System was constructed and began to remediate contaminated groundwater in late April. This system focuses on 5 acres of the 40 acre site. Questions and concerns remain regarding remediation plans for the rest of the site.

If you live in the area and want to learn more about the pump and treat system, contact the NYSDEC and at 716-851-7000 and ask for Chad Staniszewski, Project Manager.

If you want to get involved in this campaign, contact Clean Air Organizer, Shontae Cannon-Buckley at 716-852-3813 extension 1.

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