A look at the future of the former BAE Systems site, and why homes won’t be put there

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ENDWELL (WBNG) — On Thursday, a public hearing was held at the Town of Union offices showing potential plans of redevelopment at 600 Main St. in the Town of Union, where BAE Systems was before the flood of 2011 destroyed the facility.

The Air Force, which cleaned up the site after the damage, was required to present in the hearing. The site, referred to as Air Force Plant 59, has contamination according to the (DEC) Department of Environmental Conservation.

Brian Jankauskas, the project manager of the site who works in the DEC’s Division of Environmental Remediation spoke to 12 News about soil contamination that remains at the site.

“The soil contamination is related primarily to the sub grade material to the parking lot,” explained Jankauskas.

The Air Force said semi-volatile compounds are present in the soil and “below former asphalt paved parking areas at the site.” While officials with the Air Force said no further testing of the soil will be done, a soil cover that’s at least 2 feet thick will go over the soil to protect what’s being developed from bad soil.

“We want to make sure people don’t come into contact with that,” explained Jankauskas who was joined with other members of the NYSDEC.

Even with that soil cover the DEC said the site, which is listed as significantly threatening to public health or the environment in a Class 2 Superfund site, restricts certain development due to the contaminated soil. DEC officials told 12 News that due to restricted residential use, individuals homes can’t go on the land as gardening, and other activities involving soil contact would be restricted.

The DEC said the soil cover would be safe to build on, but the potential for soil vapor intrusion remains a concern. The DEC said if necessary officials will oversee the potential need for mitigation systems, such as radon detectors.

While family homes are not being looked into other options are. The Agency, the economic development organization that owns the land, and ELAN, a consulting firm, researched what would thrive the best at that location. They presented the following as most marketable to be built on the vacant lot:

  • Hotel
  • Extended stay facility
  • Senior living
  • Small retailers
  • Technology companies
  • Apartments, townhouses
  • Smaller offices, potentially in the medical field
  • Multi-purpose event center with indoor sports courts and field facilities

The Air Force says a soil management plan and site management plan will be developed to continue monitoring the site.

According to the Air Force’s presentation on Thursday, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH’s), which the EPA says some mixtures of can be lined to cancer, are connected with road base material below former asphalt paved areas are the only renaming soil contaminants. The Air Forced said 8,500 cubic yards of contaminated soil was removed.

One official form the Air Force who presented told 12 News the soil won’t be tested anymore, but the water will.

Groundwater at the property shows high traces of TCE or trichloroethylene , according to an Air Force report from 2017. According to the Environmental Protection Agency:

TCE has the potential to affect the developing fetus, irritate the respiratory system and skin, and cause lightheadedness, drowsiness, and headaches. Repeated exposure to TCE has been associated with effects in the
liver, kidneys, immune system, and central nervous system. Additionally, TCE has the potential to cause cancer in humans.

The Air Force’s presentation said, “all non-cancer risks related to groundwater are hypothetical and could only be realized if residents consumed ground water or used it for showering.”

“No body’s drinking the water that comes from the site,” said Jankauskas, as he said it comes from Johnson City.

The Air Force said the preferred method of cleaning in groundwater is to upgrade groundwater treatment systems nearby.

Stacey Duncan, The Agency’s deputy director said 12 of the land’s 27 acres will be raised at least eight feet above the floodplain on an elevated development pad. The entire land would be raised, instead of being held up on stilts.

Of the dozens at Thursday’s hearing were neighbors of the site, a handful who were concerned about their homes if flood waters are driven away from the raised plot of land. Leaders of the project said they’ll continue looking into “flood proofing” the property.

One man in attendance proposed a solar farm at the site.

The Air Force is accepting written commented about the proposed plan until March 27. You can do so by contacting:

Corey Lam, Remedial Program Manager AFCEC.

1981 Monhan Way, Wright Patterson AFB, OH 45433 (937) 904-3713. His email is corey.lam@us.af.mil

On Friday, The Agency will be issuing a request for expression to see what private sector developers want to get involved in to develop the land. Documents will be open for a period of 45 days

Michael Schwartz

Michael Schwartz

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