Attorney General Cuomo Announces $1.6 Million Settlement With Polluters Of Rochester Hazardous Waste Site

ROCHESTER, NY (January 16, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a settlement with eight private and public entities requiring them to reimburse the State of New York nearly $1.6 million for costs from the cleanup of the Rochester Fire Academy, a hazardous waste site in Monroe County.  The eight entities, including Bausch & Lomb, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, and Xerox, disposed of hazardous waste at the site from 1954 to 1980. 

“My office will hold all polluters – even the nation’s largest corporations – accountable when they contaminate New York State.  By recovering the costs from the cleanup of the Rochester Fire Academy site, this settlement will help our state rehabilitate other hazardous areas,” said Attorney General Cuomo.  “The settlement we achieved finally puts to rest a debt long owed to the State of New York.  The dangerous pollutants that put the community at risk have been removed and now those responsible have paid the price.”

“The former Fire Academy site presented a significant threat to the health of the community and greatly impacted the environment, so DEC worked closely with local government officials to perform a comprehensive cleanup that addressed the contamination and protected the public,” New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Grannis said. “Our cleanup efforts also extend to finding responsible parties and holding them liable for the impacts they caused.  By partnering with the Attorney General’s office, polluters were identified and an agreement reached for the cleanup of this site.

The 18-acre Rochester Fire Academy site was opened on Scottsville Road in Rochester in 1954 to train firefighters to combat a range of hazards.  During its operation, private and public entities in the area sent waste solvents, petroleum products, and other flammable substances to the site for use in training exercises.  In 1980 and 1981, sampling conducted at the request of the DEC found high levels of toxic chemicals, including lead and cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), contaminating soil and groundwater at the site.

As a result of this contamination, the DEC listed the Fire Academy as a hazardous waste site under New York State’s Superfund program.  The DEC determined that the site posed a significant threat to public health and the environment and required cleanup.  The City of Rochester, with partial funding from the Superfund program and working cooperatively with the DEC, cleaned up the site by removing polluted soil and treating contaminated groundwater.

The Attorney General’s office and the DEC joined forces to track down the parties that had sent hazardous waste to the Fire Academy site for use in firefighter training.  On November 15, 2005, the Attorney General’s office sued eight private and public entities who sent waste to the site – Bausch & Lomb, E.I. du Pont de Nemours, Eastman Kodak Company, Xerox Corporation, Chloride Power Electronics, Rochester Gas & Electric, The University of Rochester, and Monroe County – for their liability under federal and state hazardous waste laws to reimburse the State for the cleanup costs it incurred at the site.  The settlement announced today by the Attorney General ends that lawsuit and requires the eight entities to collectively reimburse New York State $1,575,000.      

The funds will be paid as required by a federal consent decree entered by United States District Judge David G. Larimer.  Money collected in the settlement will be deposited in the State Superfund, where it will be used to help fund cleanups at other contaminated sites.  Under DEC oversight, the City of Rochester continues to monitor the Rochester Fire Academy site for pollution impacts. 

The case was handled in the Attorney General’s office by Assistant Attorney General Timothy Hoffman of the Environmental Protection Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General David Munro and Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection Katherine Kennedy.