The state Department of Environmental Conservation is asking a judge to allow the DEC to perform an environmental cleanup at a Gowanda business.
The DEC recently filed a petition in state Supreme Court in Cattaraugus County asking for permission to clean up a petroleum discharge at the Buffalo Turbine Agricultural Equipment Company, 20 Industrial Place, Gowanda. DEC officials say petroleum was discharged from one or more underground storage tanks on the property on Jan. 13, 2018. According to the court filing, the DEC became involved with the property on Jan. 31, 2018, when the DEC was notified by Patrick McGlew, a Cattaraugus County employee, of a petroleum discharge at the property. At that time, the DEC was provided a copy of a November 2017 Phase 2 Environmental Assessment report by Panamerican Environmental Inc. for Cattaraugus County concerning conditions at the property. DEC officials were provided with a copy of the report in April 2018.
“Respondent Buffalo Turbine’s failure to permit DEC and/or its authorized representative access to the property to perform an investigation and/or remediation of a reported discharge of petroleum at the property is in contravention of statutory mandates of Article 12 of the Navigation Law, including the broad provisions of Navigation Law Sections 176 and 178,” Kenneth Gelhaus, assistant state attorney general stated in his court petition. “In light of the foregoing, Respondent’s failure to allow DEC, or its authorized representatives, unimpeded access to the property to perform an investigation and/or remediation of a reported discharge of petroleum is unlawful.”
The DEC is asking for a declaration that the state be given authority to enter the property to do an investigation and clean up the petroleum discharge, including the authority to remove the sources of contamination and demolish the building and other fixtures if necessary. Gelhaus is asking the court to set an April 2 court date to give the state time to provide notice to Buffalo Turbine through the state Department of State’s Corporations Division.
The site has been abandoned for several years, according to exhibits the state has filed as part of its court case, with taxes in arrears. Cattaraugus County has chosen not to take control of the property.
The initial incident report says petroleum impacted soil has been seen in two areas, with the impacted soil appearing to be at or near the water table surface and likely causing a “smear zone” where fluctuating groundwater levels carry petroleum compounds up and down the water column.
If excavated, the report states, soils will have a nuisance odor and require handling as a contaminated material with special staging and disposal criteria.
“A petroleum source was not definitively identified, but a vent pipe is present on the exterior wall of the East Building in this area, indicating that an underground storage tank may be present, or has been present in the past,” the incident report states.
DEC officials recommended in 2018, that an investigation be done to identify the petroleum source and remove it. There are also several 55-gallon drums and other containers that need to have their contents evaluated and then properly disposed of as well as a hydraulic lift that needs to be decommissioned.
Buffalo Turbine currently manufactures a complete line of debris blowers, dust and odor control and vector control products.