Nine contaminants ranging from heavy metals to polychlorinated biphenyls were discovered during the ongoing investigation into the level of soil and groundwater contamination at the Schweizer Aircraft Corp. property in Big Flats.
Some of the tainted groundwater, polluted with low levels of several volatile organic compounds, has moved a short distance off Schweizer's property and onto the adjoining Elmira-Corning Regional Airport property. But because of the declining levels of those compounds, the short distance they have moved from the source and the restricted use of the airport property, potential exposure to the public is unlikely, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said.
Schweizer Aircraft was acquired by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in 2004. The Connecticut-based company then submitted an application to the DEC to enter the state's Brownfield Cleanup Program. Companies whose plans qualify for the state's brownfield program are eligible for tax credits to offset the costs of the cleanup plan once it's completed.
As part of Sikorsky's strategy to reduce the use of potentially polluting industrial solvents, the company took Schweizer's trichloroethene-related equipment offline and hired the Connecticut-based engineering firm of Fuss & O'Neill to determine the extent of the pollution on the property.
The contaminants, which include TCE and PCBs, chromium, arsenic, cadmium and lead, were identified during subsequent testing in May by the engineering firm. The next step is for Sikorsky to submit a cleanup plan, which a state health department spokesman said will be subject to a 45-day comment period.
According to the report submitted to the DEC in June by Fuss & O'Neill, 23 potential areas of concern were tested by drilling soil borings and monitoring wells on the western portion of Schweizer's 44-acre parcel. Nineteen of those sites were found to contain levels of pollution high enough to require a cleanup.
A spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Health said the contaminants -- most likely chemical cleansers and degreasers used in Schweizer's manufacturing process -- pose no danger to the neighboring community surrounding the Schweizer property.
Schweizer General Manager Randy Simpson said the materials have not contaminated the factory's water supply or that of the nearby Elmira-Corning Regional Airport. He also said Sikorsky was aware of the contaminants before the company closed the deal to acquire Schweizer.
By G. Jeffrey Aaron- Star-Gazette Staff Writer
Copyright © 2007 Star-Gazette
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