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Emerson Power Transmission Environmental Investigation


The Emerson Power Transmission (EPT) facility, located off Route 96B in the City of Ithaca, has operated since the early 1900s and currently is a manufacturer of steel roller chain. This process includes metal stamping, heat treating, oil quenching, parts washing, and final product assembly. Waste solvents, which were used to clean equipment at various locations within the plant, and waste oil were generated from this operation. These solvents appear to have been flushed into the plant's sanitary sewer system and are believed to have leaked from the sewer lines in the vicinity of the residential neighborhood to the north and west of the plant.

An environmental investigation in and around the facility began in the late 1980s. Groundwater was found to contain various organic compounds including trichloroethene and tetrachloroethene, compounds commonly found in cleaning solvents. In the 1990s, EPT began extracting groundwater and treating it before discharging it to City storm sewers that discharge to a tributary of Cayuga Inlet. The DEC issued a Record of Decision for the site in December 1994.

A site-wide Supplemental Remedial Investigation was also conducted on the site in the fall of 2007 in which 25 Areas of Concern (ACO's) at the site were investigated. A Supplemental Remedial Program/Alternatives Analysis Report was finalized in September 2008. Based on these investigation results, an amendment to the 1994 Record of Decision for the site was issued in June 2009 and included an upgrade of the existing groundwater extraction system to provide more effective hydraulic control of the plume and to enhance removal of the contaminant mass. This was combined with in situ treatment of the plume. Additional provisions of the ROD amendment include the removal of weathered petroleum product and the implementation of mitigative measures to address soil vapor intrusion into the plant buildings and into offsite homes and other structures as discussed below.

In 1991, the NYSDOH conducted indoor air sampling at several area residences and found that three of the ten homes tested, those closest to EPT, may have been slightly impacted by site-related compounds. Subsequent sampling for soil vapor was completed in 2004 and results indicated the need for additional sampling near EPT and inside nearby properties. At this point a separate operable unit, operable unit 3, was created for the remaining portion of the site- consisting of the neighborhood, sewer lines and residential structures located to the north and west of the plant site.

Indoor air testing was conducted in five phases between the fall of 2004 and the fall/winter of 2006/2007 and involved approximately 100 structures. The results indicated that soil vapors were impacting the indoor air of several structures. Based on the concentrations of trichloroethene and other volatile organic compounds detected in sub-slab soil vapor and indoor air, an Interim Remedial Measure consisting of the installation of a vapor mitigation system was taken at several structures. As of mid-May 2010, 50 sub-slab depressurization systems (i.e., vapor mitigation systems) had been installed by EPT. A Record of Decision (ROD) for the Operable Unit 3 portion of the project site was issued in October 2010.

Reports and Other Information

The following information is available for download:

  • Record of Decision, Morse Industrial Corporation Site- Operable Unit No. 3, Ithaca, NY- October 2010 (PDF) (37 pages,786 kB)
  • Morse Industrial Corporation, Operable Unit No. 3 - Proposed Remedial Action Plan and Fact Sheet (PDF)- June 2010 (24 page, 3 mB)
    South Hill Sanitary Sewer Network Alternatives Analysis Report- Part I- September 2009 (PDF), (41 page, 3.6 MB)
  • South Hill Sanitary Sewer Network Alternatives Analysis Report- Part 2- September 2009 (PDF),(28 page, 3.5 MB)
  • Morse Industrial Corporation - Record of Decision Amendment June 2009 (PDF) (37 pages, 701 kB)
  • South Hill Update - June 2009 (PDF) (2 Page, 23 kB)
  • Proposed Record of Decision Amendment Morse Industrial Corporation. February 2009 (PDF) (14 pages, 760 kB)

For additional information: Copies of site-related documents are available for review at the Tompkins County Public Library, 101 East Green Street, Ithaca, NY.

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