Hiteman Leather Company
West Winfield, NY
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EPA added the Hiteman Leather Company site in West Winfield, New York to the Superfund National Priority List on January 1, 1999 because hazardous chemicals were found in the soil and ground water. The 12-acre site located in Herkimer County was used as a tannery from 1820 to 1968. Approximately 180,000 gallons of chromium-containing wastewater was discharged from the tannery into three unlined lagoons and nearby wetlands, which drain into the Unadilla River. Settled solids in the lagoons were periodically excavated and deposited as bank material around the lagoons.
In August 1959, a fish kill occurred in the Unadilla River that was a result of toxic substances overflowing from two on-site lagoons. In 1968, the facility was closed because the company was unable to meet wastewater discharge standards.
In 1996, EPA conducted an investigation at the site that found elevated concentrations of chromium in the soil and surface water. Several other contaminants were detected at low levels in soils, including metals, pesticides, semi-volatiles and volatiles. The investigation also found asbestos-covered pipes throughout the main former tannery building and determined that the wood-frame sections of the building were structurally unsound.
Based upon the investigation, EPA conducted an asbestos removal and demolished the wood frame sections of the building, power house and chimney stack in 1996. The remaining concrete and steel building was demolished by the property owner’s estate in 1998, with the latter demolition leaving piles of loose brick and concrete debris and other concrete remnants (e.g., building pillars, concrete dye tanks, etc.). Much of the loose debris was removed from the concrete foundation floor by EPA in May 2001 to facilitate sampling under the floor.
In September 2006, a remedy was selected, which included excavation of contaminated soil hot spots from the former tannery property, excavation/dredging of contaminated wetland and river sediments located adjacent to the former tannery property, solidification (the addition of cement additives to change the physical and chemical characteristics in order to immobilize contaminants) and consolidation of the excavated/dredged soils and sediments on the former tannery property, placement of a soil cover, and intermittent groundwater extraction and treatment. The remedy also indicated that the need for the remediation of river sediments in areas downstream of the former tannery would be determined based upon further testing.
During the design of the remedy, it was determined that the soils did not require solidification prior to disposal, that the downstream sediments did not need to be remediated, and that the contamination present in the groundwater was not related to disposal activities at the site (therefore, it did not require remediation). The EPA finished the cleanup work in 2008 and has continued to monitor the site. Based on the monitoring results, EPA proposed to remove the site from the NPL in December 2011 and received no comments on its proposal. The EPA will continue to assess conditions at the site every five years to ensure that the cleanup continues to be protective of human health and the environment.