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EPA plans to remove remnants of former Massena GM plant by early spring

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MASSENA — All rubble and remaining materials from the former General Motors Powertrain plant are expected to be cleared from the site by early spring.

The remediation on the Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site is in the final steps of digging out a large concrete slab and contaminated soil beneath the former plant, with the next phase of work scheduled to begin once the cold weather breaks, EPA project manager Anne E. Kelly said at a meeting last week of the North Country Redevelopment Task Force.

“The work is essentially complete. There is still a lot of dirt on site that needs to be trucked off, but it’s tough to be getting on roads at this time of year,” Ms. Kelly said. “We don’t want to be shipping waste in weather like this.”

She said weather conditions over the last two months slowed work so significantly that it “didn’t make sense” to continue, and the agency elected to cover and secure the site until temperatures rose.

Cleanup crews on the site have finished all the subsurface excavation, which refers to anything more than 2 feet underground, according to M. Brendan Mullen, cleanup manager for the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust.

Mr. Mullen told the task force he expects crews to “gradually ramp up activities” near the end of March or early April and complete work by the end of November.

Crews demolished the former automotive plant in 2011 and spent much of last year removing the 20-acre, 855,000-square-foot concrete slab that was underneath the factory and the contaminated soils below it. That $15.3 million job went to D.A. Collins Cos. in Wilton, Saratoga County.

When the work is finished, there will be a flat bed of gravel where the former plant stood.

“It’ll look nice and neat once the snow is gone. It looks pretty neat now, actually,” Ms. Kelly said.

The next phase of work was awarded to Perras Environmental Control Inc., a family-owned environmental services company in Massena. Approximately 25 to 30 Perras employees will be on the job most days.

“Bearing cost in mind, bearing qualifications, bearing project approach and management, we selected Perras for that work, and we’re very comfortable going forward with them,” Mr. Mullen said.

That work, at the northern edge of the property, involves the dismantling of three buildings and the excavation and off-site disposal of an estimated 58,000 cubic yards of PCB-impacted soils. Three process-water lagoons will be drained, excavated and filled with clean soil. Excavators will dig as deep as 50 feet in some places.

Throughout previous stages of remedial work, those lagoons were used to store contaminated wastewater. During this phase of the project, that wastewater will be treated and then discharged into the St. Lawrence River.

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