Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Friday, August 9, 2013

DEC and St. Lawrence County Sign Agreement to Allow Redevelopment of J&L Property

Portions of Abandoned Site Will Be Available for Industrial and Commercial Use

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has signed a consent order and administrative settlement that will allow redevelopment and productive use of a 36-acre parcel on the former Jones & Laughlin (J&L Steel) property in the Town of Clifton, St. Lawrence County.

The abandoned property was the site of a former 54-acre iron ore processing facility that was active during World War II, before being transferred to J&L Steel, which operated the plant from 1946 until 1977. The site was then abandoned. Taxes have not been paid on the property since 1994.

"This agreement reflects our goal of working with local partners to transform abandoned and contaminated sites into productive properties that create jobs and benefit the regional economy," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "Thanks to the efforts of various state agencies working closely with local officials, we have cleared away hurdles to redevelopment and reuse of this site and created exciting economic opportunities for this long-dormant property."

St. Lawrence County Legislator and Finance Chair Frederick Morrill lauded the signing of the consent order, saying, "This giant step leads us to a new beginning at J&L. St. Lawrence County will soon take ownership of the property and working with our partner, the DEC, we will see cleanup and redevelopment take place."

The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) was awarded an $87,500 grant through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council to prepare construction documents for the demolition of certain structures. This will help to secure funding for the actual demolition work, which would be the initial step in creating a "shovel ready" project for redevelopment and reuse of the site.

The entire J&L property is classified as an inactive hazardous waste disposal site, with contamination from mercury, lead paint, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos and solvents. In addition, an oil spill estimated to be up to 1 million gallons was reported in 1987.

Remediation of certain parcels was conducted under an Environmental Restoration Program grant awarded to St. Lawrence County in 2004. The State Oil Spill Fund has also been used to remove oil from groundwater and the Little River.

Under the consent order and administrative settlement signed this week, St. Lawrence County will be able to take title to the property, but will be relieved of any liability related to hazardous material contamination on the 36-acre parcel, which will allow the property to be redeveloped for industrial or commercial use.

In addition, DEC completed a remedial investigation of the 18-acre parcel on March 30, 2013. When St. Lawrence County files an environmental easement on the site, it will be relieved of liability.

Under the agreements, DEC will retain unrestricted access to the site to further investigate and remediate the property as deemed necessary. The property also must be maintained according to a site management plan.

The 36-acre J&L parcel is known to have soil and groundwater contamination and dilapidated structures, and will be listed as a State Superfund site. DEC has requested that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) undertake remedial action to address PCB and asbestos contamination, and the possible demolition of buildings.

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