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What’s next for Norfolk Southern’s hazardous waste site in Steuben?

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is seeking public input on a hazardous waste site in the Town of Hornellsville. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. has submitted a Brownfield Cleanup Program application for the 30-acre inactive landfill located at 6324 Ice House Road. The site was formerly owned by Conrail and closed in the late 1970s, with a partial cap of a soil cover system implemented in the early 1980s. The site has previously been studied, with evidence of the presence of various metals and volatile compounds that could pose a threat to the surrounding environment.

The property was originally owned by Erie Railroad, with Conrail owning the site from 1976 to 1999, and Norfolk Southern taking ownership in 2004. Materials that may have been dumped in the landfill include railroad ties, utility poles, wastes from derailments, 55-gallon drums, refused freight, and spent batteries.

A report commissioned by Norfolk Southern and conducted by Beech and Bonaparte Engineering in October 2022 concluded that contaminants in the landfill may have eroded or dissolved from the landfill via storm water runoff, potentially posing a risk to the surrounding ecosystem and future threats from surface runoff originating at the landfill.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Norfolk Southern plans to implement a supplemental remedial investigation to better define the nature and extent of contamination and assess risks to human health and the environment. The DEC’s Brownfield Cleanup Program is designed to encourage private sector cleanups of brownfields and to promote their redevelopment to revitalize economically blighted communities.

The DEC is currently reviewing Norfolk Southern’s application and plans to develop cleanup plans to protect public health and the environment once the review is completed. Residents can review the report and Norfolk Southern’s Brownfield application on the DEC’s website and provide comments by mail, email, or phone until March 31, 2023. If the Hornellsville site is accepted into the Brownfield Cleanup Program, opportunities for public input will continue.