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For Release: Thursday, October 23, 2014

DEC Announces Preliminary Findings of Soil Tests At Corning-Painted Post High School And Nearby Neighborhood

Study Identifies Areas with Contaminants in Fill

DEC, DOH and Corning Incorporated to Hold Public Meeting Oct. 30 to Discuss the Preliminary Findings and Next Steps

Preliminary findings of the study being conducted at the Corning-Painted Post High School (CPPHS) and nearby properties confirm the presence of contaminants in fill, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today.

DEC, the State Department of Health (DOH) and Corning Incorporated will hold an availability session and public meeting to discuss details of the preliminary investigation findings and to answer questions:

  • Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, Radisson Hotel, 125 Denison Parkway East, Corning.
    Availability session: 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.; Public Meeting: 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Characterization Study Preliminary Findings

Findings from soil borings completed to date confirm the presence of fill containing ash, brick and glass pieces at various portions of the Study Area, including Corning-Painted Post High School, Corning Christian Academy, Memorial Stadium, land in front of the City Firehouse, and the southeast and northwestern portions of the residential area. DEC conducted subsequent shallow soil evaluation activities at select properties within and nearby the Study Area, which also confirm the presence of this type of fill at additional locations. The evaluation is ongoing.

As part of the Study Area Characterization, Corning also recently completed the first round of surface soil sampling in residential yards. Corning will begin a second round of sampling in November. The final analytical results of the residential surface soil sampling are expected to be available in January 2015. DEC and DOH will hold additional availability sessions to provide property owners the opportunity to discuss individual property results.

An informational fact sheet about the preliminary findings is available on the DEC website.

Potential Exposure Pathways and Recommendations

The ongoing study has identified limited areas where there are potential exposure concerns. Potentially affected property owners in these limited areas are being notified. The analyses of soil samples collected at these locations show the presence of lead, cadmium or arsenic at concentrations above the State's soil cleanup objectives (SCOs) for residential settings. DEC and DOH are currently evaluating what actions may be appropriate to address the contamination at these properties.

Property owners should be aware that, in its current condition, contact with contaminated soil at these properties is possible in areas not covered with grass or pavement, especially if there is visible ash, brick and glass. DOH and DEC will continue to evaluate these areas and address these issues, as necessary, to reduce the potential for exposure.

Final results of the surface samples collected from the residential yards are still pending. Based on these results, DEC and DOH will determine whether there are exposure concerns for residents in the remainder of the Study Area.

In the meantime, DOH recommends that property owners follow the best practices described below to reduce any potential for exposure, including:

  • Wash with soap and water after gardening or any time before you eat;
  • Minimize children's direct contact with bare soil by laying down wood chips or maintaining grass cover, especially if soil contains visible fill material containing ash, brick or glass;
  • Consider growing vegetables in raised beds with clean soil (at least 10 inches deep). Use untreated wood to make the beds. Pressure-treated wood and railroad ties contain added chemicals; and
  • Brush off soil from your clothes and remove shoes and gloves before entering your home. You can find additional information about healthy gardening on the DOH website (which can be found in the right hand column of this page).

For more information on exposure, visit the DOH website (which can be found in the right hand column of this page).

Future Activities

Additional soil borings and groundwater monitoring wells are planned in November to better define the extent of fill containing ash, brick or glass and to assess groundwater quality. DEC is also continuing to evaluate the possible expansion of the Study Area into adjacent areas.

Upon completion of the study, DEC and DOH will evaluate the data to determine the next steps, including whether any additional cleanup measures or other remedial actions are necessary to protect public health and the environment. The results of the study and any recommended remedial actions will be communicated to property owners and the public.

Background on Study Area Characterization Study
Under a consent order with DEC, signed in June 2014, Corning Incorporated is performing an environmental study of fill soils that may be present on properties within the defined study area. The study began in July and additional characterization activities are planned through November.

The study area is located in the northeastern area of the City of Corning. It is bounded by Pyrex Street to the west, the Chemung River to the south, Post Creek to the east, and E. Pulteney Street to the north. The preliminary findings of the investigation work completed on the public properties (the schools, the park and City property) and a very limited number of the residential properties in the Study Area will be discussed.

Findings of elevated levels of lead and other contaminants in fill encountered during soil excavation undertaken as part of the high school expansion project in 2012 prompted the need for a study area characterization. Portions of the excavated fill were found to contain ash, brick and glass pieces that had hazardous levels of lead and cadmium. This fill required special handling and disposal. Other metals in the fill were found at elevated concentrations, but did not exceed levels considered to be hazardous waste. Additional characterization of this material will be undertaken.