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Environmental Studies - Elmira High School and Adjacent Properties

Project Names: Sperry Remington-North Portion, Former Sperry Remington & Former Scott Technologies

NYSDEC Project Numbers: 808022, 808043 & 808049

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), State Department of Health (DOH) and Unisys Corporation (Unisys) will hold a public meeting on:

Thursday July 9, 2015 from 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Banquet Room at the Holiday Inn Elmira-Riverview
760 E. Water Street
Elmira, NY

Details of recent environmental work and the planned next steps will be presented, followed by questions from the public.

Documents related to the characterization studies can be found at the location(s) identified below under "Where to Find Information."

Characterization Study Activities and Response Actions

The DEC/DOH approved Work Plans in 2014 developed by Unisys for environmental characterization studies at Elmira High School (EHS) and former Scott Technologies properties.

Work completed by Unisys at EHS was in addition to that required by the EHS Environmental Management Plan and included the testing of indoor air, soil vapor, soil and groundwater in addition to the installation of additional protective mitigation systems. Data collected in 2014 confirmed that indoor air, surface soil and groundwater quality conditions are consistent with previous study findings. As a precautionary measure to further reduce the potential for contaminated soil vapors to migrate to indoor air, Unisys installed a sub-slab depressurization system (SSDS) in a portion of "F" wing (NW corner). The SSDS is similar to those currently operating under the gymnasium, science "K" wing and the new cafeteria expansion. Subsequent indoor air quality testing in "F" wing has confirmed the system is effectively reducing the potential for soil vapor intrusion to occur in that area.

2014 test results found polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to be present in soil in several areas of the site similar to previous findings. As a precautionary measure, Unisys installed temporary protective cover systems over areas where elevated PCB concentrations were found in shallow soils. Additionally, the Elmira City School District (ECSD) restricted access to other grassed areas and athletic fields where PCBs were found.
These precautionary measures will augment the ongoing environmental management program being implemented by the ECSD at EHS until more information can be obtained. The findings and actions continue to ensure that school occupants are not being exposed to contaminants related to historic use of the property.

Work completed by Unisys at the nearby Former Sperry Remington site and off-site waterway areas (see attached figure) found PCBs and other contaminants present in waterway sediments; however, surface water quality is within regulatory limits. This work, underway since 2010 will continue with the full delineation of impacted areas downstream in Coldbrook Creek.

Additional environmental characterization work will begin in fall 2015 at the Former Scott Technologies site, which is a revitalized brownfield property known as the Southern Tier Commerce Center.

Unisys is conducting this work at no cost to the ECSD or the State. Project oversight is being conducted by DEC and DOH, and EHS activities will also be reviewed by the NYS State Education Department (SED).

Next Steps

Environmental characterization/investigation work will continue at these properties and in off-site waterways through the rest of 2015. Information collected during this work will be summarized in reports for each site. This information will be used to determine the need for any additional investigation or other cleanup activities.

DEC will continue to inform the public of progress and results through additional fact sheets and meetings. Public outreach will be provided after final reports are accepted or major milestones are achieved.

Background

These properties have a long history of industrial and manufacturing use, including operation of the property by the Morrow Manufacturing Co. (1909-1935) and the Remington Rand Corp. (1936-1972).

Unisys, the corporate successor to Remington Rand, entered into a Consent Order with DEC in 2010 for the remedial investigation of the Former Sperry Remington site. The site is located just south of the EHS property at 1051 South Main Street. This investigation focused on chemicals in former industrial treatment structures that discharged through drainage pipes to the off-site waterway areas. The findings of this investigation, along with the results of the previous investigations and historical Remington Rand and EHS construction/industrial plans, provided the basis for the additional Consent Orders with Unisys in 2014 to conduct site characterization studies at the Sperry Remington - North Portion site (EHS at 777 South Main Street, and the adjacent Former Scott Technologies site at 1051 South Main Street.

Previous Environmental Activities at these Properties

  • A 1995 DEC investigation of petroleum-related constituents near Miller Pond traced those substances back to the EHS property, then known as the Southside High School.
  • In 2000, DOH and DEC conducted an environmental characterization study of soil, groundwater, soil vapor and indoor air at EHS as a response to concerns raised by the ECSD regarding potential health risks related to historic industrial use of the property.
  • Environmental characterization of the off-site waterway sediments (currently Former Sperry Remington Site #808043) were conducted by DEC in 2000, 2002 & 2006.
  • Environmental investigations and cleanup of impacted soils were conducted at the Scott Technologies property from 1999 to 2006 under the Voluntary Cleanup Program ID # V00103.
  • In 2007, impacted soils were identified by the ECSD as a part of the science building addition project.
  • In 2009, the ECSD formalized the facility's operational environmental health and safety procedures in an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to organize environmental data, maintain engineering controls and manage future development on the property to reduce potential exposures to contaminated soil, groundwater and soil vapor.

Health and Exposure Evaluations at EHS

  • Data collected to date do not alter the conclusions or recommendations presented in the 2003 Health Consultation prepared by DOH, that environmental conditions at Southside High School (now EHS) pose no apparent public health hazard.
  • The findings and recommendations of the State's environmental activities in 2000 were summarized in a series of Public Health Consultations (PHC) prepared by DOH and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The assessments found that school occupants were protected from potential exposure to elevated levels of chemicals related to historic use of the property because of the contemporary building or surface cover materials such as concrete slabs, pavement, imported soil and grass. In addition, the assessments found that the building's heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system (HVAC) reduced the risk of migration of contaminated soil vapor into the building's indoor air.
  • In a 2010 PHC related to the EMP, the DOH and ATSDR concluded that breathing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at the levels found in the indoor air at the EHS was not expected to harm people's health. However, the PHC recommended that actions be implemented to reduce indoor air levels of VOCs to within background ranges and also emphasized the need for continued operation of the HVAC and other vapor mitigation systems necessary to reduce the risk of migration of VOCs into the building's indoor air.

For More Information

Where to Find Information
Project documents are available at the following location(s) to help the public stay informed.

Chemung County Library District
Central Library (Elmira)
101 East Church Street
Elmira, NY 14901
Attn: Owen Frank
(607) 733-9173

NYSDEC Region 8
6274 East Avon-Lima Rd (Routes 5 and 20)
Avon, New York 14414-9519
Attn: Frank Ricotta, P.E.
Phone: (585) 226-2466 (call for appointment)

Additional site details, including environmental and health assessment summaries, are available by searching DEC's Environmental Remediation Database (Search site numbers: 808022, 808043 and 808049)

Environmental Management Plan (EMP) related documents may also be available on the Elmira High School Web Page (See "Links Leaving DEC's Webpage" on right).