Hooker Chemical S-Area
Niagara Falls, NY
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Michael Basile - (716) 551-4410
EPA added the Hooker Chemical S-Area site in Niagara Falls, New York to the Superfund National Priorities List on September 1, 1983 because hazardous chemicals were found in the soil and ground water. The 8-acre superfund site, located in Niagara County, is an industrial landfill owned by the Occidental Chemical Corporation (OCC). It is located in a heavily industrialized area at the southeast corner of OCC’s Buffalo Avenue chemical plant, along the Niagara River. Before its 1997 removal, the drinking water treatment plant for the City of Niagara Falls was next to the landfill. There is a residential community of approximately 700 people within the quarter mile northeast of the site.
The OCC deposited about 63,000 tons of chemical processing wastes into the industrial landfill from 1947 to 1961. The landfill was also used to dispose of other wastes and debris until 1975. Ground water and soil on- and off-site were contaminated with toxic chemicals that were both water soluble and water insoluble. Two lagoons for non-hazardous waste were located on top of the landfill and were operated under New York State permits until 1989.
Cleanup started in 1996 and has been completed. A barrier was installed around all contaminated areas to make sure pollutants would not migrate away from the site. Ground water pumping wells and drains were installed to collect and remove polluted liquid. On-site separation, storage, and treatment facilities were constructed. Currently, there is no drinking water well connected to the contaminated area. The old drinking water treatment plant was completely demolished by late 1997. Construction of a replacement plant was completed at a new location in March 1997. Asbestos waste materials were removed and disposed of before the plant’s demolition began. A drainage system was installed to collect polluted water and prevent it from migrating into the Niagara River. A final cap over the contaminated area was completed in 2002. A security fence now surrounds the site. EPA oversaw the installation of wells used to track the extent and possible movement of contaminated water. A semi-annual sampling program allows EPA to observe the progress and tweak the systems for efficient operations.
The water quality samples showed low-level contamination from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are potentially harmful contaminants that can easily evaporate into the air. EPA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation decided to inject a solution into the tunnel area that will allow them to determine the source of the contamination and will help decide if additional cleanup is needed. Before September 2009, EPA will conduct a review of the site to make sure everything is going according to plan. Currently, as a result of the actions taken, there are no people, plants, or animals that might be exposed to contaminants from this site.