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The Rosen Brothers Scrap Yard Dump is a former abandoned scrap-metal processing facility which occupies approximately 20 acres on the southern side of the City of Cortland, New York. The site is surrounded by commercial, residential, and industrial properties. The site overlies the Cortland-Homer-Preble aquifer, a sole source aquifer used as a supply of potable water for the City of Cortland. The supply well for the city is located two miles upgradient of the site. The area currently occupied by the site is the eastern half of a forty-acre parcel of land that in the late 1800s was developed by the Wickwire Brothers, Inc. as an industrial facility for the manufacture of, for example, wire, wire products, insect screens, poultry netting, and nails. The eastern half of the property was used primarily as a scrap yard. An on-site pond was used as a cooling pond. The facility was sold to the Keystone Consolidated Industries, Inc in 1968. Keystone closed the facility in 1971, and shortly thereafter, the facility was destroyed by fire. In the early 1970s, Phillip and Harvey Rosen transferred their existing scrap-metal processing operation from several blocks away to the eastern portion of the property. Rosen Brothers demolished the Wickwire buildings and used the debris to fill in most of the cooling pond. The area where the demolition of the buildings took place was cleared for the development of new industry in 1979, known as the Noss Industrial Park.

Rosen Brothers' scrap metal operations included scrap metal processing and automobile crushing. Municipal waste, industrial waste and construction waste were allegedly intermittently disposed of in or on the former cooling pond. Drums were crushed on-site, the contents spilling onto the ground surface. Rosen Brothers was cited for various violations, including illegally dumping into adjoining creeks, improperly disposing of waste materials, and operating a refuse disposal area without a permit. Operations on the site ceased in 1985, and the site was abandoned. In 1986, New York State conducted an investigation of the site and concluded that hazardous materials were present, including several hundred full and/or leaking drums, transformers filled with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and pressurized cylinders of unknown contents. Elevated levels of trichloroethane (TCA), PCBs, anthracene, pyrene, lead, and chromium in site soil, sediment, and groundwater were detected. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) performed a removal action in 1987.





EPA issued Administrative Orders to Keystone and several additional potentially responsible parties (PRPs) in 1988 and 1989, requiring them to remove the materials previously staged by EPA. This work was completed in 1990. The site was added to the National Priorities List in March 1989. The PRPs conducted a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) to determine the nature and extent of the contamination and to identify and evaluate remedial alternatives from 1990 to 1997. The PRPs also voluntarily demolished and removed buildings and a smoke stack; removed and recycled 200 tons of scrap materials; emptied and disposed of contents of an abandoned underground storage tank and removed a small concrete oil pit. In 1997, EPA arranged for the removal and recycling of over 500 tons of scrap metal and more than 20 tons of tires form the site. A Unilateral Administrative Order was issued in 1990 and also in 1998, requiring the PRPs to perform a removal action. A Record of Decision (ROD) was issued in March 1998.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Immediate Actions: In 1987, EPA secured drums and excavated visibly-contaminated soils. In 1989, the site’s PRPs removed all surficial hazardous wastes, including the drums and stained soils, as well as cylinders and PCB-containing transformers, from the site and fenced it to prevent potential exposures to contaminated media. Structurally-unsound buildings and a 150-foot-high smoke stack were demolished in 1993. An oil pit was removed and an underground storage tank filled with #6 fuel oil was emptied in 1994. The PRPs removed and recycled almost 200 tons of structural steel in 1994. EPA arranged for the removal and recycling of more than 500 tons of scrap metal in 1997. During a removal action completed in 1998, an underground storage tank and PCB-contaminated soils were excavated and removed from the site and a cap was placed over five acres of the site property.

Long-Term Cleanup: Following the completion of the rRI/FS,EPA selected a remedy in a March 1998 ROD. The remedy included capping the former three-acre cooling pond, placement of a surface cover system on the remainder of the 20-acre property, excavation of four hot spots of contaminated soil, and natural attenuation of the groundwater. Two of the hotspots required the cleanup of 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA)-contaminated soil. Two hotspots required the cleanup of PCB-contaminated soil.

TCA-contaminated soil excavation and capping and cover activities started in July 2002. All of the excavated soil was disposed of off-site in October 2002. Capping of the cooling pond and the installation of the surface cover were finished in July 2003. Groundwater monitoring is ongoing.

Five-year reviews ensure that the remedies put in place protect public health and the environment, and function as intended by site decision documents. EPA conducted five-year reviews at the site in September 2003, September 2008, September 2013 and September 2018.  The most recent review concluded that the response actions at the site are in accordance with the remedy selected by EPA and that the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment. The next five-year review will be conducted in 2023.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site was addressed in two stages: immediate actions and a long-term remedial phase focused on cleanup of the entire site.

PCB-contaminated soil excavation was undertaken as part of the 1998 removal action . TCA-contaminated soil excavation, , off-site disposal of the excavated soil, capping of the cooling pond, and the installation of a site-wide surface cover was performed 2002-2003. Groundwater monitoring is ongoing.

Because of nationwide concerns regarding vapor intrusion at residential and commercial properties near sites with volatile organic compound-contaminated groundwater, the soil vapor intrusion pathway is being evaluated.

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Enforcement Information

In 1998, EPA entered into a Consent Decree with fifteen PRPs to design and implement the remedy selected in the ROD. This Consent Decree was entered by the Court (approved by the Judge) on May 28, 1999.

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