Vanadium Corporation of America
Fact Sheet August 2013
Vanadium Update: Cleanup Action Has Begun at State Superfund Site
Action has begun that will address the contamination related to the Vanadium Corporation of America site ("site") located at 4400 Lockport Road, Niagara, Niagara County under New York's State Superfund Program (SSF). Please see the map for the Site Location.
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.
Documents related to the cleanup of this site can be found at the locations identified below under Where to Find Information. The cleanup activities will be performed by NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
- Record of Decision (58 page PDF, 2.77 MB)
- Remedial Design (50 page PDF, 2.59 MB)
- Remedial Design Addendum (8 page PDF, 3.08 MB)
Highlights of the Upcoming Cleanup Activities
The goal of the cleanup action for the site is to achieve cleanup levels that protect public health and the environment. The elements of the remedy are as follows:
- Completion of the remedial design that will provide the details necessary for the construction, operation, maintenance, and monitoring of the remedial program.
- Contaminated Soil/Slag materials and sediment in areas around the existing disposal are will be excavated and consolidated. The majority of the slag in the mound area will remain in place; however, grading of this area will be required prior to placement of the cap in order to provide proper drainage. The material to be consolidated will be placed in areas such that work around the transmission towers would be minimized. Following consolidation and grading, the site will be capped.
- Confirmatory soil samples will be collected from the excavations. Excavated areas determined to have achieved the cleanup goals would be backfilled with clean soil and graded to ensure proper drainage.
- A site management plan will be developed to address residual contaminated soils that may be excavated from the site during future redevelopment.
- An environmental easement will be placed on the property that will require compliance with the approved site management plan; limit the use and development of the property to commercial or industrial uses only, restrict the use of groundwater as a source of potable water, without necessary water quality treatment as determined by DOH, restrict access to the property, maintain a fence around the areas of concern and require the property owners to complete and submit to DEC an annual certification. The property owner will provide a certification, prepared and submitted by a professional engineer or such other expert acceptable to DEC, until DEC notifies the property owner in writing that this certification is no longer needed. This submittal will contain certification that the institutional controls and engineering controls, are still in place, allow DEC access to the site, and that nothing has occurred that would impair the ability of the control to protect public health or the environment, or constitute a violation or failure to comply with the site management plan.
- Implementation of a long term monitoring program which will evaluate the effectiveness of the remedy. The results of the monitoring program will be submitted to DEC for review and approval that will present the results of groundwater and surface water monitoring, and descriptions of Site inspections and maintenance activities.
After completion of the cleanup activities, a Final Engineering Report (FER) will be prepared. The FER will describe the cleanup activities completed and certify that cleanup requirements have been achieved or will be achieved.
DEC will keep the public informed throughout the cleanup of the site.
Location: The Vanadium Corporation site is located in the industrialized urban area of the Town of Niagara. This 88 acre site was once part of a larger site that included the SKW Site 932001C and the Airco Properties Site 932001B and is bounded on the north by an automobile depot and vacant property; on the west by Witmer Road (Route 31); on the east by Interstate 190; and on the south by vacant land and industrial facilities.
Site Features: The main site features are a large area of elevated ground surface which represents the disposal location of site wastes. There are no buildings associated with the site however water transfer units (conduits) are located beneath New York Power Authority's (NYPA) property. These conduits transfer water from the Upper Niagara River, located to the south, to the NYPA reservoir. Numerous high voltage electrical transmission towers are located on the Site and overhead electrical transmission lines cross the Site. The Vanadium site is also near the Union Carbide site #932035 and the Carborundum Globar site #932036, inactive hazardous waste disposal sites. The nearest water bodies are the Lower Niagara River, located approximately 1.4 miles west of the property; the NYPA reservoir, located approximately 0.8 miles north of the property; and Gill Creek, located approximately 1,000 feet east of the site.
Current Zoning/Uses: Current zoning is industrial and there are no active industrial operations on the property.
Historic Uses: From 1920 to 1964, the site was owned by the Vanadium Corporation of America (Vanadium). The extent of land originally owned by Vanadium is not fully known. However, it is estimated that Vanadium originally owned 150 acres. The size of the Vanadium site (consisting of Operable Units 1, 2, and 3) is estimated to be approximately 150 acres. During that time, portions of the site were used to dispose of an estimated 594,000 tons of wood, brick, ash, lime slag (calcium hydroxide), ferrochromium silicon slag, and ferrochromium silicon dust. NYPA purchased the property from Vanadium in 1959 for construction of the Niagara Power Project. A portion of this property was subsequently sold to Niagara Mohawk (aka National Grid). The property owned by NYPA and NiMo also contained waste piles deposited by Vanadium. These waste piles reportedly contained calcium hydroxide, ferromanganese slag, ferrochromium slag, and ferrochromium dust (E.C. Jordan Co., 1991b). Airco purchased 62 acres of the Vanadium property in 1964. Although Airco owned the site, an affiliated company, Airco Carbon (subsequently called Carbon/Graphite Group), operated the site and disposed of wastes similar to those disposed by Vanadium. Rusted and crushed 55-gallon containers and scrap metal were also observed on and around waste piles on both the Airco and NiMo/NYPA properties. Approximately 5,000 tons per year of baghouse dust containing ferrochromium silicon dust were disposed of by Airco at the Vanadium site from 1971, when the bag house was installed, to shortly after 1984. Over that 14-year period, it is estimated that approximately 70,000 tons of this waste was generated and disposed of on site. The waste was reportedly disposed of on the property. Airco discontinued generating ferrochromium silicon wastes in 1984. SKW Metals and Alloys, Inc (SKW), a predecessor of CCMA, purchased the western 37 acres of the Airco property in 1979. In 1980, SKW commenced operation of a solid waste disposal facility, consisting of two landfill cells. The facility was designed for the disposal of ferrochromium silicon baghouse dust and ferrosilicon baghouse dust wastes. The landfill is no longer in use, and was closed, graded, and seeded in accordance with DEC regulations before October 1992. At the SKW plant, the production of ferrochromium alloy materials was discontinued in 1981/1982.
The former Vanadium site is currently owned by four separate companies; CCMA, Airco, NYPA, and NiMo. The Vanadium Corporation of America is no longer a viable corporation. As of 1988, Cyprus-Foote Mineral Company acquired the interests of the Vanadium Corporation of America (DEC, 1997).
A Record of Decision (ROD) was issued in March 2006. The ROD requires waste consolidation and capping, site management plan, Environmental Easement and Periodic certification with long term monitoring. The Remedial Design was approved with comments in July 2010and amended in April 2012. A Remedial Action (RA) Order was signed in March 2011 to implement the approved remedy for this site. The remedial action to implement the remedy began in August 2013.
Geology/Hydrogeology: The geologic structure beneath OU#3consists of four units and includes, in descending order: fill material, glaciolacustrine deposits, glacial till, and bedrock.
Fill - Fill material overlies much of the Site. Where encountered, the thickness of the fill materia generally ranges from 1 to 21 feet. The predominant fill material consists of whitish gray slag; cinders; and whitish gray, fine-grained, lime-like material. In most areas, the slag is covered by soil fill. In other areas, the slag is present at the ground surface.
Glaciolacustrine Deposits - The glaciolacustrine deposits consist of laminated silty clays, clayey silts, sandy silts, and silty sands. The thickness of this unit generally ranges from 2 to 26 feet.
Glacial Till - The glacial till unit consists of a dense heterogeneous mixture of clay, silt, sand, gravel, and Dolostone rock fragments; but is predominantly silt and clay. The thickness of this unit ranges from 1 to 7 feet.
Bedrock - The bedrock immediately underlying the glacial till is the dolostone of the Eramosa Formation of the Middle Silurian Lockport Group. The Eramosa Formation beneath the Site is nearly flat-lying but contains erosional features evidenced by variations in thickness of the glacial deposits. The Eramosa Formation is described as dolostone/limestone that is weathered to dense, and thin to massively bedded.
In the vicinity of the site, the depth to the top of the Eramosa Formation dolostone generally ranges from 7 to 32 feet below ground surface (bgs). Vertical fractures and weathered horizontal bedding planes were observed in previous investigations in the upper 45 feet of bedrock in the eastern portion of the Site.
The hydrogeologic structure beneath the site consists of four units and includes, in descending order: shallow hydrogeologic zone consisting of perched groundwater present in the fill material and the upper portion of the glaciolacustrine deposit; intermediate hydrogeologic zone consisting of the deeper portion of the glaciolacustrine deposit and characterized as a confining unit; a deep hydrogeologic zone consisting of the glacial till and the fragment-rich contact zone between the till and the weathered bedrock surface; and the upper bedrock hydrogeologic zone.
There are no current users of groundwater at the site. Regionally, groundwater yields from overburden deposits are too low for domestic or industrial purposes. The bedrock has the capability to produce high yields; however, the bedrock groundwater is typically very hard and highly mineralized and is not used as a drinking water source in the area.
Additional site details, including environmental and health assessment summaries, are available on DEC's website.
State Superfund Program
New York's 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)
Town of Niagara
7105 Lockport Road
Niagara Falls, NY 14305
Who to Contact
Comments and questions are always welcome and should be directed as follows:
Project Related Questions:
NYS DEC, Division of Environmental Remediation
270 Michigan Ave
Buffalo, NY 14203
Site-Related Health Questions:
584 Delaware Ave
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.
Have site information such as this fact sheet 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.
Aerial view of Vanadium superfund site