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Lowe's stalled by nearby waste

Saturday, July 5, 2008
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— Contamination near the Freemans Bridge Road site where Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse plans a new facility is resulting in one more modification to the long-delayed project.

The Planning and Zoning Commission last October approved Lowe’s plan to build a 171,000-square-foot facility on a nearly 20-acre parcel across Dutch Meadow Lane from Wal-Mart. However, construction has not started. Project officials recently discovered a pipe near the site that is discharging water contaminated with PCE — perchloroethylene — an industrial solvent commonly used by dry cleaners.

The state has listed the nearby property at 99 Freemans Bridge Road as a hazardous waste site because of elevated quantities of three chemicals used in industrial solvents — tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene (TCE) and dichloroethene (DCE).

To avoid having to work in the contaminated area, Lowe’s is proposing to eliminate the road that would have provided access to the rear of two adjacent properties owned by Shaun Cole at 99 Freemans Bridge Road and a warehouse at 107 Freemans Bridge Road.

The contamination is believed to be from the property at 107 Freemans Bridge Road, which had once been home to the Kenco Chemical Company Inc.

Rick Georgeson, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation, said state officials believe Kemco went out of business in the mid-1990s. He said the state sent out letters on May 29 to surrounding property owners and local and state officials informing them of the hazardous waste site.

state STUDY COMING

“The next step is to do a full site investigation to determine the nature and extent of the contamination,” he said.

The state is in the process of hiring a contractor to conduct the study, which should begin by the end of the month.

The DEC has been studying this entire area for a couple years after receiving a report of two plumes — areas where liquid contamination is migrating in groundwater. The source of the contamination was determined to be 107 Freemans Bridge Road. The study identified septic-type structures and solvent contamination in the groundwater.

The northern portion of the plume near 107 Freemans Bridge Road is saturated with PCE, TCE and DCE. There is contamination in the middle portion of the plume between 81 and 107 Freemans Bridge Road. In the southern portion of the plume near 61 Freemans Bridge Road, the groundwater is contaminated with these three chemicals as well as petroleum-type chemicals including benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene, according to the DEC report.

People who drink water containing any of these chemicals for many years could suffer from liver problems and may have an increased risk of getting cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency Web site. The report said that the area is served by public water so people would not be exposed to contaminated groundwater.

Georgeson said the investigation would continue until the spring of 2009. “It’s just complicated in tracking down, determining where the contamination came from and the testing that has to be done,” he said.

There are a variety of approaches that could be taken to clean up the property, including removing material and sending it to an off-site hazardous waste facility or cleaning the material. The state would pay for the cost of the cleanup through its Superfund program but could sue the responsible party to recoup the costs.

In addition, DEC officials installed mitigation systems in two nearby homes similar to radon systems that prevents any vapor from the contaminated soil from getting into the houses through their foundations. Georgeson said the state was not releasing the addresses of the houses.

Cole could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Two numbers for a business at 99 Freemans Bridge Road called Cole Industrial Supply Co. were both out of service.

PLANNERS TO MEET

Town Administrator Tony Germano said that in lieu of the planned access road, Lowe’s is going to establish a right-in, right-out driveway at the adjacent Cole property. The Planning and Zoning Commission will review the request at its meeting on July 14 at 7 p.m.

Planning Director Kevin Corcoran said the town had initially wanted the access road so if the Cole properties are redeveloped, they would not have driveways right onto Freemans Bridge Road next to the traffic light. The right-only driveway is an alternative.

The elimination of the access road is the second modification to the project. In May, the retailer received approval to reduce the building by 14,000 square feet and reduce the parking lot from 538 spaces to 452. The purpose was to avoid having to construct a large retaining wall on one side of the building.

He said Lowe’s recently applied for a building permit worth $16,000.

“Our assumption is that they’re moving forward,” he said.

 
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