EPA investigates hazardous chemicals found in old Ogdensburg cheese plant

WWNY EPA investigates hazardous chemicals found in old Ogdensburg cheese plant

OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Hazardous chemicals have been found in a shuttered Ogdensburg cheese plant. The Environmental Protection Agency is on the case. City officials hopeful it can all be cleaned up.

It’s dark, but with some light you can see various acids and ammonia. Nobody knows exactly how much or what else is in there. This week, the EPA is finding out.

“This is basically considered a Superfund emergency assessment,” said Carl Pellegrino, EPA lead on-scene coordinator. “There’s always a potential for a release or a threat to the surrounding community.”

Superfund – that’s the federal fund for cleanups of the worst contaminated sites. Pellegrino said it appears nothing has leaked.

“Unfortunately, what should have been done several years ago is what were doing today, which is stabilizing hazardous chemicals and substances,” said Ogdensburg City Manager Stephen Jellie.

The city won a $340,000 judgment against owners of the former Tubroburg cheese plant, but only $125,000 has been collected. Mayor Mike Skelly would like to see the building torn down once cleanup is complete.

“It’s going to be tremendous. This is our marina district and we’re starting to see a lot of potential...You’re right here by the two rivers. Yeah, a lot of potential for redevelopment,” he said.

The mayor estimates the city has had to pay out about $250,000 in school and other taxes on the defunct factory.

Officials say how long everything takes depends on what they find. The EPA and contractors will be on scene for about a week. Then they’ll put together a cleanup plan.

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