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Mercury Refining, Inc.
Albany County, NY

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Larisa Romanowski - (518) 407-0400

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The EPA added the Mercury Refining, Inc. site, located on the border of the Towns of Colonie and Guilderland, New York (Albany County), to the Superfund National Priorities List on September 1, 1983 because of mercury in the ground water, soil and sediments. From approximately 1956 to 1998, Mercury Refining, Inc., reclaimed mercury from batteries and other mercury-bearing materials at the site, which lies in an industrial and commercial area. Approximately 100,000 people live within a three mile radius. Water near the site is used for drinking water and recreation.

Site testing in the 1980s by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) found high levels of PCBs and mercury, both potentially harmful to human and wildlife health, in soils. The ground water at the site is contaminated with mercury, though the EPA determined that this contamination does not move off the site. Sediments in an unnamed tributary of Patroon Creek, which receives run-off from the Mercury Refining property, were also contaminated with mercury.

Under an agreement with New York State, Mercury Refining, Inc. remediated part of the site; it removed about 2,100 cubic yards of mercury-contaminated soil and debris and 300 cubic yards of PCB-laden soil. NYSDEC also ordered the company to curtail future releases from the plant, cleanup additional contaminated soil, and monitor on-site soil and ground water and off-site soil and stream sediments. At the request of the NYSDEC, in 1999 the EPA took over as the lead agency at the site. After an extensive investigation and evaluation of various options for cleanup of the site, the EPA selected its final cleanup plan for the site in 2008. That plan required a combination of soil excavation and treatment of the soil and ground water.

In 2012, five companies considered responsible for contamination at the Mercury Refining Superfund site reached a settlement with the EPA to do the work needed to clean up the site. Under the agreement, contaminated soil at the surface, which is more easily accessible to people, would be excavated and disposed of at an off-site landfill. Contaminated soil that is deeper would be treated using a technology that treats the contaminated soil and ground water by locking the mercury in a mixture of Portland cement and another agent, preventing it from moving into the surrounding soil and ground water. In addition, the cleanup plan called for the removal of contaminated sediment from an unnamed tributary to Patroon Creek, which receives rainwater runoff from the Mercury Refining property. Water would be removed from the excavated creek sediment and disposed of at an off-site landfill. According to the agreement, the owner of the site, 26 Railroad Ave, Inc., would be responsible for taking action to secure legal land use restrictions to ensure that people aren’t exposed to contaminants on-site and to ensure that the treated soil and ground water is not disturbed. The five primary companies would be ultimately responsible for conducting all the cleanup work called for in the EPA’s cleanup plan.

The cleanup of the Mercury Refining site began in 2013 and was performed in two phases. The first phase, which included contaminated soil and sediment excavation, removal and backfilling, was performed in fall 2013. The second phase, which included the in-situ solidification/stabilization portion of the cleanup, was performed in summer/fall 2014. Site restoration work, including paving and reseeding of grass, was completed in fall 2014.  Long-term monitoring to confirm the continued effectiveness of the cleanup remedy is expected to begin in spring 2015.


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