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EPA Completes Cleanup of Chemical Hazard in Tonawanda, New York

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Michael Basile (

(New York, N.Y.) Removing a significant threat to public health and safety, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has completed its cleanup of improperly stored hazardous materials at the Morgan Materials, Inc., facility in Tonawanda, New York.

"This array of improperly stored chemicals posed a real danger to the local community,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “In just a year and a half, EPA worked with 36 different chemical manufacturers and companies who had legally sold materials to Morgan Materials and got them to recycle thousands of drums and containers totaling some nine million pounds of materials, saving tax-payers approximately $8 million in cleanup costs.”

“New York State is committed to ensuring that businesses across the state are operating in a responsible way that is protective of public health and our environment,” said State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Abby Snyder. “It is our priority to provide a safe and clean environment for residents and to protect our natural resources. Working with EPA, DEC helped ensure the cleanup at Morgan Materials meets state and federal standards and the site has been fully remediated.”

Town of Tonawanda Supervisor, Joseph Emminger, said “The cleanup of this site represents a significant improvement for the residences and businesses in the neighborhood, as well as the nearby schools, since this was a disaster waiting to happen. We applaud the efforts of the EPA in doing the cleanup in a timely manner and look forward to the repurposing of the site.”

Morgan Materials, located in northern Erie County at 380 Vulcan Street, Tonawanda, purchased and was improperly storing both hazardous and nonhazardous materials. EPA’s Superfund cleanup activities began in late November 2016 and concluded this month.

EPA’s Superfund cleanup activities began in late November 2016 and concluded this month. The Agency’s cleanup efforts recycled approximately nine million pounds of materials and saved $8 million in cleanup costs.

Morgan Materials, located in northern Erie County at 380 Vulcan Street, Tonawanda, purchased and improperly stored both hazardous and nonhazardous materials. The site consists of a series of seven connected warehouse buildings, on eight acres, located in a mixed industrial and residential neighborhood and near two schools.


EPA’s efforts began in July 2016 when EPA and New York State (NYS) DEC conducted a joint inspection with officials from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services, Buffalo Sewer Authority, and the Town of Tonawanda. EPA also collaborated with New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

EPA found chemical containers throughout the site, often unlabeled, leaking or stored improperly, including flammables, corrosives, and oxidizers, which could have leaked or caused fires. Results of EPA’s initial testing showed that the facility was full of hazardous substances, such as volatile organic compounds and heavy metals.

In November 2016, NYS DEC ordered Morgan Materials to address conditions that presented an imminent danger. Morgan Materials did not comply. EPA then assumed responsibility for security, utilities, and fire control systems. To ensure public safety, EPA established air monitoring stations throughout the site.

EPA contacted companies who had sold chemicals to Morgan Materials, resulting in substantial quantities of materials being recycled. Materials that were not recycled were disposed of at off-site permitted disposal facilities.

For further information, please visit our website:  

   Photos pre- and post-cleanup. Courtesy of the U.S. EPA.

Under Administrator Pruitt’s leadership, the Superfund program has reemerged as a top priority to advance the Agency’s core mission of protecting human health and the environment. EPA established a Superfund Task Force in May 2017 to provide recommendations for improving and expediting site cleanups and promoting redevelopment.

The task force’s recommendations focused on five overarching goals: expediting cleanup and remediation, reinvigorating cleanup and reuse efforts by potentially responsible parties, encouraging private investment to facilitate cleanup and reuse, promoting redevelopment and community revitalization, and engaging with partners and stakeholders.

The Superfund Task Force Recommendations can be viewed at

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Superfund Task Force. In May 2017 EPA established a task force to restore the Superfund program to its rightful place at the center of the Agency's core mission to protect health and the environment.