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G.M. Massena
St. Lawrence County, NY

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Larisa Romanowski (518) 747-4389

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EPA added the General Motors (Central Foundy Division) site in Massena, New York to the Superfund National Priorities List in 1984. The 270 acre site in St. Lawrence County was originally built to produce aluminum cylinder heads for the Chevrolet Corvair. The facility operated as an aluminum diecasting plant from 1959 to May 2009. Until 1980, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were a component of hydraulic fluids used in diecasting machines at the facility. 

While in operation, various industrial wastes were generated and disposed of onsite. Contamination is located in two disposal areas, called the North Disposal Area and the East Disposal Area, an Industrial Landfill, and four industrial lagoons. PCBs have been found in the ground water, on- and off-site soils, and sediments in the St. Lawrence and Raquette Rivers, Turtle Cove, and Turtle Creek. PCBs are considered probable human carcinogens and are linked to other adverse health effects such as low birth weight, thyroid disease, and learning, memory and immune system disorders. Contamination in river sediments may affect sediment-dwelling organisms and can pose a threat to the health of other wildlife through the bioaccumulation of PCBs. The consumption of fish or wildlife from contaminated areas is of special concern because of the proximity of the Mohawk Tribal lands. There are approximately 4,000 Saint Regis Mohawks living in the adjacent territory referred to as Akwesasne. 

Ground water was also found to be contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are potentially harmful substances that easily evaporate in the air, and phenols have been detected in lagoon sludges, as well as in the disposal areas.
The site is being addressed in three stages: immediate actions, which included capping of the Industrial Landfill to prevent migration of contaminants, and two long-term remedial phases focusing on cleanup of river system sediments, the North Disposal Area, the industrial lagoons, Reservation and facility soils, and groundwater and cleanup of the Industrial Landfill and East Disposal Area.

In addition, sampling of the manufacturing facility buildings in 2008, 2009, and 2010, showed elevated concentrations of PCBs in the buildings and in the tunnels and soils underneath the plant. The current owner of the site, the RACER Trust, is undertaking the demolition of the manufacturing building and its associated structures, with EPA oversight, and will address the contaminated soils and materials. The demolition began in February 2011 and is expected to take two years to complete.


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