Young/Sommer Negotiates Brownfields Cleanup Agreement for Reuse of Former Packaged Lighting Site

Posted on October 31, 2011

The former Packaged Lighting site is a 3.0 ± acre former commercial/industrial property located in the Village of Walden, Orange County, New York. The main structures on the site include a dilapidated and vacant commercial/industrial building and three smaller commercial buildings that have also been vacant since 2008. All site buildings are in various states of disrepair. The dates of construction for the site buildings range from the mid-1800s through the 1960s. The site has a history of industrial use dating back to the mid-1800s.

The primary site contaminant is the chlorinated volatile organic compound (VOC) trichloroethylene (TCE), which was discovered in shallow groundwater at the site during a 2010 Phase II subsurface investigation. Other detected contaminants include concentrations of metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) also attributed to former site uses.

The property was entered into the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program but there was a controversy as to whether the Estate of the former Owner should be treated as a “Volunteer” or “Participant” under the program. After discussions with the Department of Environmental Conservation with regard to the century old industrial use of the property, the presence of historic infrastructure, the lack of clear evidence of releases during the time of ownership by the Estate’s deceased, the fact that an “Estate” is not a “person” for purposes of a CERCLA evaluation [see, 42 USC Section 9601 (21)] and that the beneficiaries of the Estate would all have been eligible for innocent landowner defenses under both CERCLA and the State ECL, the DEC agreed to enter the Estate as a Volunteer.

The Brownfield Cleanup Agreement has been signed and site investigation and interim remedial actions are expected to commence after approval by the DEC of the RI and IRM work plans.

The property will be redeveloped after implementation of the remedial action program and is another good example of how the private sector and the Department work together to cleanup and redevelop contaminated properties.

For more information on the State Brownfield Cleanup Program, contact Dean S. Sommer at (518) 438-9907, ext. 236.