Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The GCL Tie and Treating (GCL) site (Site)  is located in Sidney, Delaware County, New York. The 60-acre site includes two major areas – the GCL property and the non-GCL property. The 26-acre GCL property consists of an inactive sawmill and wood treating facility. The 34-acre non-GCL pproperty includes two light manufacturing companies located on a parcel of land next to the GCL property. Threats posed by contaminated soil, aboveground tanks and drums containing creosote wastes and sludges have been addressed. Area residents receive drinking water from public supply wells, which are routinely tested to ensure compliance with federal and state standards. Fencing restricts access to the site.


The GCL property occupies approximately 26 acres in an industrial area in southwestern Delaware County, New York. The GCL property consisted of a sawmill and wood treating facility known as GCL Tie and Treating, and a former light manufacturing company. According to an analysis of historical photographs conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and accounts by local residents, wood-preserving activities at the site date as far back as the 1940's when the Delaware and Hudson Railway Company owned the property. The site first came to the attention of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in 1986, after one of the pressure tanks used at the GCL facility malfunctioned, causing an estimated 30,000-gallon release of creosote. GCL representatives excavated contaminated surface soil and placed it in a mound; no further action was undertaken at that time.

Site Responsibility: This Site is being addressed through federal actions.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Immediate Actions: EPA started a short-term cleanup, called a removal action, at the Site in March 1991. Activities included delineation of surface contamination, installation of a chain-link fence, site stabilization, identification and disposal of containerized (e.g., tanks, drums) and non-containerized hazardous wastes (e.g., liquids in sumps), staging of contaminated soils and wood debris for disposal, and a pilot study to determine the effectiveness of composting to bioremediate creosote-containing soils.

EPA's removal activities eliminated any potential imminent threat posed by the Site. About 20,000 gallons of creosote wastes and sludges were removed from the Site and 4,800 cubic yards of contaminated soils and 3,000 cubic yards of wood debris were staged for on-site treatment.

Long-term Cleanup: EPA selected a remedy for contaminated soils on the GCL property in the Site’s September 1994 Record of Decision or ROD. It included excavation and on-site treatment of contaminated soil via low temperature thermal desorption. Cleanup started in August 1998 and finished in May 2000. During excavation, additional structures and sources of contamination were discovered.

As a result, the actual volume of contaminated soil requiring remediation was 80,000 cubic yards, twice the estimated volume predicted in the ROD. Pools of dense NAPL-contaminated groundwater found during soil excavation were also pumped and treated as part of the cleanup. Site restoration activities (e.g., grading, seeding) were completed in June 2000.

A Remediation System Evaluation (RSE) was conducted by EPA to optimize the management and operation of the groundwater extraction and treatment system. An RSE report was finalized by the end of December 2006. The recommendations of the RSE report were implemented. In 2009, a soil vapor intrusion evaluation was conducted at the ACCO Brands property building. The results indicated that soil vapors were not an issue. 

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The Site is being addressed in three stages: immediate actions and two long-term remedial phases focused on cleanup of site soils, sediments and groundwater.

The Site was selected as a pilot project for the Superfund Accelerated Cleanup Model (SACM). Under this pilot, work typically performed sequentially ( assessment, National Priorities List (NPL) placement, removal action assessment) was performed in parallel. While determining if the Site was eligible for the NPL, EPA investigations further delineated the nature and extent of contamination at the Site.

EPA selected a remedy for contaminated soils and sediments on the non-GCL property in the site’s March 1995 ROD. The ROD also addressed surface water, groundwater and other components not covered in the site’s 1994 ROD. The remedy included extraction and on-site treatment of groundwater contaminated with organic compounds; discharge of treated groundwater to surface water, and the excavation and treatment of contaminated sediments via the thermal desorption system used for GCL-property soils. Construction of the remedy started in October 2002 and finished in July 2004. The work entailed construction of a 60-by-80 foot metal building on a concrete slab with associated water treatment equipment, piping, process instrumentations and controls. The groundwater treatment system began operating in August 2004 andoperated until the end of Summer 2016.

The EPA solicited its Office of Research and Development to perform a supplemental, non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) investigation at the Site. NAPL can be denser than water (DNAPL) or lighter than water (LNAPL).  New monitoring wells were drilled and sampled. The supplemental investigation showed that NAPL is present at the Site and is continuing to affect the groundwater under the Site. The groundwater extraction and treatment plant is currently not operating. Additional groundwater sampling is currently being conducted in order to evaluate futher the extent of NAPL source material remaining at the Site, as well as determining the current extent of the groudnwater contamiantion plume.  Using all available groundwater and NAPL data, EPA and its contractor are currently proceeding with the development of a Focused Feasibility Study which will identify and evaluate potential cleanup alternatives to address the NAPL contamiantion at the Site.

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