Even prior to Superstorm Sandy flooding the whole Rondout area Monday, there’s been a lot of activity on the East Strand. Earthmoving machines have been clearing out the recycling facility of B. Millens & Sons, which is closing its location on the Strand and moving to a new facility on Kiefer Lane in Town of Ulster. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which has classified the property as a Class 2 hazardous waste site, has long been attempting to clean up the property. Besides removing all the junked cars and other recycled material, Millens is doing a remedial clean-up, according to Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo. The DEC, which is requiring Millens to remove all materials by Nov. 1, will subsequently complete its investigation of contamination of the site and undertake any additional remediation next year. Millens can continue to operate from its concrete pad until Nov. 15.
The company has not yet been issued its certificate of occupancy for the new facility at Town of Ulster, pending site improvements required by the town board and subject to planning board approval, according to Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley III. Quigley said the company has rebuilt the existing building on the 4.2-acre site, previously the Miron Truss Plant; it’s in the process of installing machinery and constructing enclosures for the scale units in the yard area. “We are having the building inspector go through the building tomorrow,” he said, adding that a walk through of the facility by the project engineer, building inspector, and town’s consulting engineer has been scheduled for next week, to ensure all improvements have been completed.
Among other things, the special permit will require annual inspection of the facility by the town as well as testing of groundwater by two monitoring wells, a proposed stormwater plan and accompanying investment should such a district be established by the town, and storage of liquid waste, regardless of quantity, in compliance with DEC regulations. At a public hearing held at the Town of Ulster last March, DEC officials said the new enclosed facility would be much safer than the property on the Rondout Creek, which Millens had operated since the 1940s and had a history of environmental violations.
Meanwhile, a team of workers are busy laying new railroad ties for the track running from the Trolley Museum out to Kingston Point. The track stabilization improvements are being funded by a $779,200 Federal Rail Administration grant, along with $86,578, portion of a state Department of State grant. The work is expected to be done by the end of the year.
The money will also fund running conduits for future electrification of the tracks, according to museum administrator David Lowrie. Currently the museum runs only two cars, one on diesel and the other on gasoline; if overhead wires were installed, the museum could run at least half a dozen of its renovated cars. Only problem is, electrifying the track would cost a cool $7 million — an improvement, however, that might seem reasonable once planned developments on the waterfront are built out.
Expect more activity on the waterfront in the future: the DEC is recommending remediation of a second hazardous waste site, the 1.7-acre gravel-covered property across the tracks from Millens, which is owned by Central Hudson and contains natural gas transmission and distribution lines. Formerly home to the city’s gasworks, which were in use from the 1890s to the 1920s, the site has been deemed “a significant threat to public health or the environment” following an investigation by the DEC in consultation with the state Department of Health. Contaminants found in the soil, groundwater, and Rondout Creek sediment at unsafe levels include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and zylene along with semi-volatile organic compounds. The toxins are found in deposits of coal tar, the waste material from the former gasworks, in the soil and creek sediment.
The DEC is completing a report, which will include a clean-up plan for the site from Central Hudson. The DEC will present the draft cleanup plan, which is expected sometime next year, to the public for review and comment.
Gallo said the ongoing cleanup of these industrial wastes are steps forward, opening the way for development of the master plan for mixed-used development, including retail stores, restaurants and, ideally, a boutique hotel, on the Kingston waterfront.