Environmental cleanup proposed for former Trico complex

Mar 3, 2017

Not only did Trico ship its iconic windshield wipers to customers from its plant on Washington Street, it also left behind some serious environmental problems. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is studying a cleanup plan from developer Krog.

The DEC is going through a 45-day comment period, allowing the public to look at the plan and see what is proposed to clean up the million-square foot complex, buildings of various designs and various uses over time. The Krog plan is to tear down some of the space to allow a courtyard in the middle to serve a planned hotel.

Under state law, the developer has a cleanup plan proposed and it goes to the DEC for study and potential approval. Then, the actual work is done under Albany supervision.

Chad Staniszewski, regional remediation engineer, said doing all of this for a building to be rehabbed is not unusual.

Credit WBFO File Photo

"In the City of Buffalo, obviously, we have to deal with a lot of former buildings. Sometimes, those buildings are demolished as part of a redevelopment and then we have better access to soil and ground water," he said. "In this case, the building was in suitable condition to reuse. So that's one of the constraints of our investigation and our remediation, but it's not uncommon."

If the work is done according to plan and the DEC certifies that happened, the developer can ask Albany for tax credits to help pay the cost and that can run to many millions of dollars. A recent cleanup in Niagara Falls cost $25 million to open a site for redevelopment, which already included a $12 million plastics manufacturing plant.

For the Trico complex, cleanup steps range from pumping out and cleaning waste water in the basement to pumping chemicals into the ground underneath the complex to clean up contamination by neutralizing other chemicals. Staniszewski said there will be underground monitoring wells and other wells to inject cleanup chemicals.

"That will allow us to inject amendments directly into the contaminated groundwater," he said. "Those amendments are aimed at simply removing the chlorine atoms from the chlorinated solvents that exist. Once you remove the chlorine atoms from the compound, it quickly degrades into carbon dioxide, water and essentially chloride salts which are harmless."