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5565 River Road

Site Number 915239

September 2013 Fact Sheet

5565 River Road Update: Investigation to Begin at State Superfund Site

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently began a detailed environmental study at the 5565 River Road Site ("site") located at 5565 River Rd., Tonawanda, Erie County. Please see the map for the Site Location. Documents related to the cleanup of this site can be found at the location identified below under Where to Find Information.

The site is listed as a Class "2" site in the State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites (list of State Superfund sites). A Class 2 site represents a significant threat to public health or the environment; action is required.

Investigation Work Plan

The investigation work plan, called a "Remedial Investigation Work Plan/Scope of Work," was developed under New York's State Superfund Program. DEC will perform the investigation which will assess conditions on-site (and, if appropriate, off-site).

Highlights of the Site Investigation

The purpose of the investigation is to define the nature and extent of contamination in soil, surface water, groundwater and any other parts of the environment that may be affected. The site investigation will fully characterize all contamination at the site.

Next Steps

The information collected during the investigation will be summarized in a report. After the site investigation is complete, DEC will conduct a "Feasibility Study." This study uses information developed during the site investigation to develop and evaluate potential ways to clean up contamination related to the site. The information collected during the site investigation may also support the conclusion that no action, or no further action, is needed to address site-related contamination.

DEC will then develop a draft cleanup plan, called a "Proposed Remedial Action Plan." This plan describes the remedy preferred by DEC, or, if warranted, a no action or no further action alternative. The draft cleanup plan explains the decision that led to the preferred remedy by discussing each alternative and the reasons for choosing or rejecting it. The goal of the plan will be to ensure the protection of public health and the environment. DEC will announce the draft cleanup plan in a future fact sheet, and will present it to the public for its review and comment during a 30-day comment period and at a public meeting.

Digital Files


The 5565 River Road site consists of approximately 24 acres of a single parcel located at 5565 River Road in the Town of Tonawanda, Erie County, New York. The site is bounded on the west by vacant, forested property owned by the Lake Ontario Steel Company and by the Riverview Industrial Center site; on the south by commercial property owned by Enbridge Energy Partners; on the east by vacant property owned by the Town of Tonawanda; and on the north by a truck terminal owned by RLR Investments, LLC. Access to the site is by a gravel drive on the adjacent property owned by the Town of Tonawanda.

Site Features
The 5565 River Road site is heavily vegetated by a mixture of trees, tall grass, scrub brush and shrubs. Wetland vegetation (e.g., phragmites) is growing in the north-central portion of the site, but free-standing water was not present in this area during a Site Characterization (SC) completed in November 2011. The topography of the site is relatively flat-lying and slopes gently to the east toward the gravel drive. A scarp approximately 5 to 6 feet in height; however, is present along most of the western boundary of the site. This scarp is produced by the presence of industrial fill at the site. In the north-central portion of the site, large mounds of industrial fill are present and range in height from approximately 5 to 15 feet above the surrounding grade. Exposed fill in these mounds consists predominately of flyash. Numerous ATV trails were observed throughout the site with the industrial fill exposed along these trails.

Three creeks traverse the site:

  1. Rattlesnake Creek in the northern portion of the site, which has been culverted across a large portion of the site and adjacent property to the east;
  2. An unnamed creek (middle creek) in the central portion of the site, which has been culverted across the property to the east; and
  3. An unnamed creek (south creek) that forms the southern boundary of the site, which is culverted across the entire site and a portion of the adjacent property to the east.

All three creeks discharge to Two Mile Creek to the east, which discharges to the Niagara River approximately 2,500 feet downstream of the site. Clusters of 55-gallon drums were observed on the ground surface at six different areas of the site. The majority of these drums were empty, rusted and in poor condition.

Current Zoning/Use
The property is zoned for industrial use, and is currently vacant and undeveloped. No buildings are present on the site. The proposed future use of the property is for commercial purposes.

Historic Use
Historic information concerning the site is extremely limited, so the disposal history of the site has been determined through a review of historical aerial photographs. The site appears to have remained undeveloped until approximately 1966. An aerial photograph from that year reveals several areas of disturbance at the site. Disposal appears to have continued through the 1990s. An aerial photograph from 2005 suggests that dumping had ceased and trees were starting to grow on the former disposal areas.

Remedial History
In September 2009, a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment was completed for the Town of Tonawanda to evaluate the environmental status of the property. This study identified the large mounds of industrial fill and the 55-gallon drums on the ground surface.

In October 2010, based upon the results of the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, the site was placed on the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal sites as a Potential site.

Between October and December 2011, DEC completed an SC of the 5565 River Road site. This investigation included:

  1. A detailed property survey;
  2. A detailed site reconnaissance;
  3. A comprehensive test pitting program; and
  4. The collection of environmental samples for chemical analysis.

The SC Report was completed by the DEC in August 2012. In October 2012 the site was listed as a Class 2 Site in the New York State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites.

Additional site details, including environmental and health assessment summaries, are available on DEC's website.

State Superfund Program

New York's State Superfund Program (SSF) identifies and characterizes suspected inactive hazardous waste disposal sites. Sites that pose a significant threat to public health and/or the environment go through a process of investigation, evaluation, cleanup and monitoring. DEC attempts to identify parties responsible for site contamination and require cleanup before committing State funds.

Where to Find Information

Public interest in this project is valued and appreciated. Project documents are available at the following location to help the public stay informed.

NYS DEC Region 9 Office
270 Michigan Avenue
Buffalo New York 14203
(Call for appointment)

Tonawanda Public Library
333 Main St
Tonawanda NY 14150
(716) 693-5043

Who to Contact

Comments and questions are always welcome and should be directed as follows:

Project Related Questions
Mr. Glenn May, Project Manager
Division of Environmental Remediation
270 Michigan Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14203

Site Related Health Questions
Mr. Matthew Forcucci
584 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14202

For More Information

We encourage you to share this fact sheet with neighbors and tenants, and/or post this fact sheet in a prominent area of your building for others to see.

*Receive Site Updates by Email

Have site information such as this public notice sent right to your email inbox. DEC invites you to sign up with one or more contaminated sites county email listservs available. It's quick, it's free, and it will help keep you better informed.

As a listserv member, you will periodically receive site-related information/announcements for all contaminated sites in the county(ies) you select.

Site Location

Aerial view of 5565 River Road site
Aerial view of 5565 River Road superfund site