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General Electric Company - Main Plant Site

Other (Former) Names of Site: General Electric Turbine Plant, General Electric - River Road

EPA Identification Number: NYD002084135
Facility Location: 1 River Road, Schenectady, New York Site Map
Facility Contact Name: Damian D. Foti, (518)385-3716, damian.foti@ge.com
EPA Contact Name: Andy Park, (212) 637-4184, park.andy@epa.gov
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Case Manager: Martin Brand, (518) 402-9774, mdbrand@gw.dec.state.ny.us
Last Updated: September 2006
Environmental Indicator Status: Human Exposures Under Control [PDF 5.71 MB, 17 pp] has been verified.
Groundwater Contamination Under Control [PDF 4.95 MB, 14 pp] has been verified.

Site Description

The General Electric (GE) Main Plant facility is located at 1 River Road in the city of Schenectady and the town of Rotterdam, Schenectady County, New York. The property is zoned "heavy industrial" and encompasses 628 acres. The property is bordered to the north and east by Interstate 890; to the south by the Poentic Kill and the Delaware and Hudson Railroad; and to the west by the Poenties Kill, an unnamed wetland, and the Rotterdam Square Mall. Properties to the north, east, and west are zoned for industrial and commercial uses. Properties to the south are zoned residential. The residential area is separated from the site by the railroad track and the steep, wooded Bellevue Bluffs, which rise 50 to 100 feet above the site.

The GE Main Plant has been in operation since 1886, when Thomas Edison purchased two vacant factory buildings at the site. Information about site usage prior to GE is not available. The area was originally the Mohawk Flats wetlands and was heavily landfilled before 1947. Initially, landfilling took place south of the Erie Canal. Since 1886, over 240 buildings and other structures have been constructed on the site. Over the years, the plant has manufactured a variety of products, including electrical motors and generators, steam and gas turbines, insulated wire and cable, insulating materials, and microwave tubes.

Manufacturing activities are conducted in the central and eastern parts of the property. As of early 2006, approximately 40 buildings were present on site. The western area of the property includes three former landfill areas (the former Binnie Kill Landfill, the former East Landfill, and the former West Landfill) and wetlands.

GE used the former landfills for disposal of waste and debris beginning in the mid-1940s and continued into the 1980s. GE covered the former Binnie Kill Landfill in 1997 with three feet of clean fill and six inches of topsoil, which is now well vegetated. Since 1999, the Binnekill, East, and West Landfills have been the subject of a phytoremediation/agronomic cover pilot study. The landfills are covered with various plantings of indigenous trees and other plants designed to manage the water balance and provide cover for the landfilled materials.

Site Responsibility and Legal Instrument

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and General Electric entered into an Order on Consent (Index # A4-0336-95-09) in August 1995. Additionally a Record of Decision was signed on March 30, 2005.

Permit Status

GE did not apply for a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Permit, but had Interim Status under the RCRA program.

Potential Threats and Contaminants

The site has been an active manufacturing plant for over a century and common industrial contaminants are found throughout.

Contamination of soil, subsurface soil, and groundwater in excess of NYS standards, criteria, and guidelines is present at various locations on the GE Main Plant site. Contaminants of concern include volatile organic compounds (benzene, toluene, xylene, trichloroethene, 1,2-dichloroethene, vinyl chloride), semi-volatile organic compounds (acenaphthene, benzo(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, naphthalene), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and metals (primarily mercury, lead, chromium).

Several areas will require remediation and closure including: groundwater source areas and plumes, former landfills, surface and subsurface soils (PCB removal), and landfill seeps. Surface water and sediments have not been significantly affected by site activities. Contamination has not been detected in off-site surface water or groundwater. No known private or public drinking water supplies have been affected by the site contamination.

The plant is in an industrial area, however, there are a few nearby homes with private drinking water wells. These wells were sampled in 1986 and do not show any contamination. Public water has since been provided to these homes. The supply wells for the Cities of Schenectady and Rotterdam are approximately 0.5 miles from the western edge of the plant site, however a hydrogeologic investigation shows a groundwater divide between the site and the wells.

There is a potential for contamination to surface water, specifically the Poentic Kill, the Poenties Kill, and the Mohawk River, however the Record of Decision Plan addresses this exposure concern. The remedy calls for an evaluation of the potential for soil vapor intrusion into on-site structures.

Cleanup Approach and Progress

A Consent Order (CO) was signed with GE in 1995 for a comprehensive Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study of the entire 628-acre property. A number of significant Interim Remedial Measures (IRMs) have been completed during the course of the RI or are presently underway. These IRMs include:

A Remedial Investigation started in 1995 and was completed in May 2004. A Record of Decision was released in March 2005 that called for:

A Consent Order is being drafted by NYSDEC for remedial design/remedial action. The remedial design has been initiated and is expected to be complete by the spring of 2007.

Site Repository

Copies of supporting technical documents and correspondence cited in this site fact sheet are available for public review at:

NYSDEC
Division of Environmental Remediation
625 Broadway, 12th floor
Albany, New York 12233-7013

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) makes its public records available for a review under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).

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