DEC says no cleanup needed at Niskayuna GE facility

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BY REBECCA ISENHART
Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — The Department of Environmental Conservation issued a statement Tuesday that said any pollution at the GE Global Research facility in Niskayuna is either below the federal threshold of risk to human health and the environment or has already been properly contained.

The department’s final decision, officially called a No Further Action Statement of Basis Corrective Measures Selection, formally acknowledges that prior containment actions at two contaminated sites were sufficient and do not need to be improved upon.

The decision also established a process for monitoring the site and determined some additional actions GE would need to take if it ever decides to tear down its Applied Research building, which it currently has no plan to do so.

The report examined five SWMUs (solid waste management units) and three AOCs (areas of concern).

SWMUs are essentially landfills, whether official or informal. They are anyplace where waste materials were routinely discarded during the site’s history.

AOCs can be any site where presence of volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, PCBs or other contaminants is suspected.

In the end, only two sites were of particular concern: SWMU-8, a former drum storage area at the Applied Research Building that tested above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency safety guidelines, and AOC-2, the parking lot of the Engineering Physics Building. Both were noted and recommendations were made for disposing of contaminated soil at some point in the future, deferred until adjacent structures are altered or removed.

Two other areas, the former Resins and Insulation Building and an inactive landfill that contains about 112 tons of hazardous materials, were determined to be properly contained during interim actions taken in 2004 and 1981, respectively. GE will continue to monitor those sites with oversight from the DEC.

Four other sites were found to be safe for people and the environment.

A spokesperson for the DEC said the agency will continue to monitor groundwater and other indicators, alongside GE, which pays for any cleanup efforts deemed necessary.

“We take our compliance responsibilities very seriously and will continue to work closely with the DEC in meeting our regulatory obligations,” said GE spokesman Todd Alhart.

The DEC’s final statement is available for inspection at the NYSDEC central office in Albany, the NYSDEC Region 4 office in Rotterdam, and the Niskayuna Branch Library.

This story originally appeared in The Daily Gazette.