Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Announce Newly-Passed Infrastructure Dollars Will Be Used To Clean Up Superfund Sites In Elmira, Town Of Vestal, And Niagara County

Dec 17, 2021

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that due to funding secured through the bipartisan infrastructure and jobs package, the Environmental Protection Agency will accelerate hazardous waste cleanup in Elmira, the Town of Vestal, and Niagara County. Some of these projects have been listed on the EPA National Priorities List (NPL) for decades waiting for federal funding. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand fought to bring this critical funding back to New York to finalize hazardous waste cleanup at these sites. Because of this funding, the EPA will now facilitate the long-term cleanup of hazardous waste at the Vestal Water Supply Well 1-1 in Vestal, Facet Enterprises, Inc. in Elmira, and Eighteen Mile Creek in Niagara County.

“The recently-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Law includes a surge of new funding for the federal Superfund program that we fought hard to deliver, and those dollars are now being put to use to jumpstart long-delayed clean-ups at toxic sites in Elmira, the town of Vestal, and Niagara County,” said Senator Schumer. “Cleaning up these toxic sites in Elmira, Vestal, and Niagara County is critical to protect the public health, clean up our environment and pave the way for economic regeneration at these locations. I applaud the EPA and President Biden for focusing on improving the Superfund program and moving quickly to put these infrastructure dollars to use to benefit the public and create new jobs.”

“I’m thrilled to announce that key Superfund sites located in Elmira, the town of Vestal, and Niagara County are receiving the funds needed to clean up hazardous waste in these communities. This critical funding is a direct result of the bipartisan infrastructure package and will help clean up these sites in order to keep the surrounding communities safe from exposure to harmful, toxic waste,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The health of New Yorkers should not be put at risk due to toxic waste dumps – period. I fought alongside Senator Schumer to secure and deliver this funding, and I am grateful to the Biden administration for quickly disbursing this money.” 

The Vestal Water Supply Well 1-1 Superfund site located in Vestal, New York was one of three production wells in the Vestal Town Water District 1 intended to provide drinking water to several water districts in the area. Well 1-1 is moderately contaminated with several volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and will receive thermal soil treatment. Other soil in the area contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) will be excavated and removed from the site. 

The Facet Enterprises, Inc. facility is a 31-acre parcel of land in the Village of Elmira Heights. The facility was previously used to make products such as bicycle parts, automobile engine components and small arms for the military. Vapors from chemical contamination, primarily trichloroethylene (TCE), have seeped into more than 65 properties in the vicinity of this site. TCE can produce emissions that rise through the soil and potentially affect indoor air quality, a condition known as vapor intrusion. The EPA will use these federal funds to install vapor mitigation system to remove harmful chemicals from soil where there is potential for vapor intrusion, specifically trichloroethylene (TCE).

The Eighteen Mile Creek Superfund site located in Niagara County flows north for approximately 15 miles, discharging to Lake Ontario in Olcott. The Eighteen Mile Creek Corridor extends from the Creek’s headwaters at the Barge Canal to Harwood Road in Lockport and contains most of the site’s sediment, soil, and groundwater contamination. The federal funding will be used to excavate and dispose of lead and PCB contaminated sediment within the Creek Corridor. Additionally, soil at adjacent upland commercial properties will be excavated and disposed.

The Superfund program was established by Congress in 1980 to investigate and facilitate cleanup of the nation’s most complex, uncontrolled, and abandoned hazardous waste sites. Only sites added to the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term permanent cleanup. The EPA’s Superfund program operates under the “polluter pays” principle, giving the EPA the authority to require polluters to take responsibility for cleanup of the environmental contamination they caused. EPA adds sites to the NPL when mismanagement of contamination threatens human health and the environment. 

The Senators outlined the sections of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act related to cleaning up pollution below:

  • $3.5 billion available for 5 years for the Remedial account within the Hazardous Substance Superfund. This section of the bill would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to invest in clean-ups and continue moving forward on remedial actions for Superfund sites.
  • $1.2 billion for the Brownfields competitive grants while raising grant caps for half of the competitive grant funding under this section ($600 million). 
  • $1.5 billion equally distributed over 5 years for State and Tribal Assistance Grants: Brownfields This section of the bill would provide significant investment into the Brownfields program to help communities, States, Tribes and others to assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse contaminated properties. 
  • $300 million for Brownfields categorical grants to support the development and progress being made under state-led Brownfields efforts. All state cost share requirements for this section have been waived. 
  • $14.45 billion from reinstating certain Superfund fees that will be collected over the next 10 years and provide a steady stream of funding to clean up Superfund sites. 

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand have long fought to address water contamination, expedite Superfund designations, and remove PFAS to protect public health in New York State. In 2017, following a multi-year push, the senators announced the EPA’s designation of Hoosick Falls as a Superfund site to facilitate cleanup of PFOA at Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics.