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Al Tech Specialty Steel Site

State Superfund Program

Site Number: 401003 - Operable Units 01 & 02 - (link to Environmental Site Database Record)
Location: Lincoln Avenue and Spring Street Road, Town of Colonie, Albany County

Investigation to Continue at State Superfund Site - May 2014

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has taken over the site-wide investigation activities at the Al Tech Specialty Steel site.

Al Tech site view in Colonie, NY
Al Tech Specialty Steel State Site- Operable Unit 2, landfill

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 purpose of the upcoming investigation is to gather additional environmental data across the entire facility and determine whether past investigations were adequate to characterize contamination on the AL Tech property. Site investigation activities will commence in June of 2014 and will be conducted as specified in the Field Activities Plan, DEC April 2014. The investigation will piggyback on previous investigations conducted by the owner of the facility and focused investigations performed in the past by the DEC. If the DEC determines that the full nature and extent of contamination has not been documented, additional focused investigations may be necessary.

Highlights of the Site Investigation

Due to the size of the facility, a phased approach is being utilized to define the full nature and extent of contamination. In the upcoming phase, the main plant area (MPA) will be divided into squares, each 200 feet by 200 feet (a grid). A sample of surface soil and multiple samples of subsurface soil will be collected from each grid to be analyzed for a wide range of potential contaminants. Samples will be collected from sediment in the Kromma Kill adjacent to the MPA and will also be analyzed for potential contaminants. Other media, such as groundwater, surface water, and various building materials are also targeted for sample collection and analysis from locations likely to be impacted by contaminants based on a thorough review of historical site-related documents.

Background

Location

Location Map of Al Tech Site
Al Tech Site in Colonie, north of Albany, NY

The Al Tech Specialty Steel site lies in a suburban area in the town of Colonie, NY. The Al Tech Main Plant Area (MPA) spans the area between Lincoln Avenue and Spring Street Road while the Al Tech Waste Management Area (WMA) is situated on a hillside along Spring Street Road. Other former industrial scale facilities are also located in the immediate vicinity including the former Delaware and Hudson Rail Yard and the former Adirondack Steel and Casting.

Site Features

The MPA encompasses 68 acres and consists of 8 large remaining buildings, roadways, concrete foundation slabs and former industrial waste disposal areas. Pioneer plant species are beginning to reclaim some portions of the property. The Kromma Kill flows along significant lengths of the north and the east sides of the MPA. The Hudson River is approximately one mile down stream from the MPA.

Ariel view of Al Tech site
Northern portion of Al Tech Specialty Steel Site main plant area.

The WMA is comprised of 31 acres of land and is occupied by a 12-acre industrial waste landfill. The remaining property contains wooded areas, former parking facilities and the leachate storage building. On the WMA, the Kromma Kill overlies the north and east boundaries with an unnamed tributary to the Kromma Kill flowing on the south side of the landfill. Two dirt roads are maintained to provide access to the landfill.

Current Zoning/Uses

Zoning for both the MPA and WMA is "Industrial." The entire property is vacant of active commercial or industrial activities.

Historical Uses

The properties have been utilized solely for the production, and activities associated with the production, of stainless steel. Development of the property for this purpose began in 1910. Potential polluting activities from the manufacture of stainless steel include disposal of coal ash from early furnaces; storage and distribution of fuel oil; storage and use of various acids for pickling of steel products; use of PCB-containing electrical equipment such as transformers and capacitors on site; and, generation of chromium-containing electric arc furnace dust. To a lesser extent, there were paints, thinners, solvents and other chemicals used in the facility support activities such as equipment and vehicle maintenance as well as building and facility maintenance.

While the facility was operating, several areas of the facility (MPA and WMA) were the target of remedial action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery (RCRA) program. Those remedial actions are detailed in the following paragraphs.

Waste Acid Pits

Two in-ground, brick-lined pits were constructed in the central-eastern part of the MPA and were used to store spent sulfuric, hydrofluoric and nitric acids prior to on-site treatment. The pits leaked, consequently their use was discontinued. Sampling revealed that surrounding groundwater over an area of approximately one acre was contaminated with several heavy metals and exhibited low pH (acidic) characteristics. A groundwater recovery system was installed to pump groundwater to the on-site treatment plant. The system operated for approximately eight years when groundwater data indicated recovery and treatment was no longer necessary. The wastewater treatment plant was decommissioned in 2004. Decommissioning included closure of the waste acid pits. Results from biannual groundwater monitoring indicate pH has returned to normal levels and the metals concentrations have nearly decreased to background levels. Monitoring continues in this area to verify this trend.

The WMA

This landfill formerly consisted of 31 acres and was located in the northwest corner of the facility. A holding basin in the northwest part of the landfill received electric arc furnace (EAF) dust (K061 waste) from mid-1970 to 1980 and the landfill also received lime-stabilized waste pickle liquor sludge from 1972 to 1990. Leachate was collected in a surface impoundment at the southern end of the landfill from 1978 to 1988, and was treated at the facility's wastewater treatment plant. After 1988, the surface impoundment was replaced by two leachate collection tanks. Sludge and sediment samples were taken from a stream adjacent to the landfill in 1990 and found to be EP Toxic for chromium. Al Tech completed an Interim Remedial Measure (IRM) at the landfill under a 1992 Consent Order. The IRM work involved removing materials from the north face, stabilizing the slope, and routing leachate to the wastewater treatment plant. From 2000 to 2003, a stainless steel metal reclamation project was completed to remove valuable metals from the landfill and to consolidate the remaining waste materials into a 12-acre area. From 2003 to 2004 the 12-acre landfill was closed with an NYSDEC-approved cover. Eroded banks of the Kromma Kill were restored. Currently, upgradient and down gradient monitoring wells are routinely sampled and limited leachate is collected, stored and trucked off-site for treatment and disposal.

Petroleum Cutoff Wall

Fuel oil that was likely spilled from a leaky distribution network had been impacting the Kromma Kill along the east side of the property. A membrane cutoff wall and light, nonaqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) recovery wells were installed in 2002. That system prevents additional petroleum LNAPL on the MPA from the migrating to the Kromma Kill. Monitoring wells and recovery wells are routinely monitored and purged to remove LNAPL from the property.

Miscellaneous Waste Removal

Lagoon area before cleanup
Lagoon area at Al Tech before cleanup.

In 2008 various small containers of waste left at the site were collected and disposed of off-site at a permitted facility. Types of waste included laboratory chemicals, bulk acids, compressed gas cylinders, and varieties of lubricating and fuel oils.

RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI)

An extensive RFI was performed throughout the 1990's. The RFI identified various areas of concern (AOCs) at the facility. AOCs that were identified and are being, or have been addressed under the State Superfund program include the South Lagoon, transformer areas, and maintenance activities at the WMA.

Site-wide Characterization

A site-wide characterization was initiated in 2014 to address any data gaps resulting from areas of the facility that have not been sampled during the course of past investigation activities.

Operable Units

The site is divided into two operable units. An operable unit represents a portion of a remedial program for a site that for technical or administrative reasons can be addressed separately to investigate, eliminate or mitigate a release, threat of release or exposure pathway resulting from the site contamination.

Operable Unit 1 (OU1) generally includes the MPA but primarily consists of two areas that have been determined to pose a significant threat to human health or the environment and are categorized as Class 2 inactive hazardous waste disposal sites. These include the Waste Acid Pit area and the South Lagoon area.

Operable Unit 2 (OU2) includes the WMA.

Lagoon area of Al Tech after cleanup
Lagoon area at Al Tech after cleanup.

Site Geology And Hydrogeology

The site is mostly flat and is situated on layers of fill, alluvial sediments, clay till and bedrock (Snake Hill Shale). Bedrock is found between one to 42 feet below ground surface (bgs). There are two groundwater bearing zones, overburden and bedrock. The first continuous water-bearing zone can be as shallow as five feet bgs but is typically is about 10 to 15 feet bgs.

Where to Find Information

Project Related Questions

Ian Beilby, P.E.
Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Environmental Remediation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7016
518-402-9767
derweb@dec.ny.gov

Site-Related Health Questions

Albert DeMarco
New York State Department of Health
Empire State Plaza - Corning Tower Room 1787
Albany NY 12237
(518)402-7860
BEEI@health.state.ny.us

Document Repositories

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

Watervliet Public Library
1501 Broadway
Watervliet NY 12189
(518) 274-4471

NYS DEC
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233
(518) 402-9767

Repository Files

  1. RCRA Facility Assessment Report, 1991, McLaren Hart Environmental Engineering Corporation.
  2. RCRA Facility Investigation Description Current Conditions Report, 1991, McLaren Hart Environmental Engineering Corporation.
  3. Phase II RCRA Facility Investigation for AL Tech Specialty Steel, 1998, Environmental Strategies Corporation.
  4. Construction Completion Report: Decontamination and Demolition of Melt Shop/Baghouse/Castor Building, 2004, RealCo Inc.
  5. Waste Management Area Site Management Plan, 2007, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting PC.
  6. Focused Remedial Investigation for South Lagoon/Scrap Metal Storage Area, 2009, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting PC.
  7. Interim Site Management Plan-Waste Management Area 2009, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting PC.
  8. Construction Completion Report for the South Lagoon Interim Remedial Measure, 2011, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting PC.
  9. Focused Phase II Remedial Investigation for South Lagoon/Scrap Metal Storage Area, 2012, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting PC.
  10. Interim Site Management Plan-Waste Management Area, Revised 2012, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting PC.
  11. AL Tech Waste Management Area Site Management Report-2011, 2012, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting PC.
  12. AL Tech AL Tech Waste Management Area Site Management Report-2012, 2013, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting PC.
  13. Scrap Metal Storage Area Data Gap Report, 2013, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting PC.
  14. Previous Activities Summary Report, 2013, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting PC.

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