EPA will take down more Diaz buildings in Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 October 2015 at 12:00 am

File photos by Tom Rivers – U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer met with local officials in August 2014 at the former Diaz Chemical site on Jackson Street in Holley. A cleanup stalled at the property, but will soon begin.

HOLLEY – The cleanup and remediation of the former Diaz Chemical property on Jackson Street has slowed in recent years, but will soon commence with the remaining structures from Diaz knocked down.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency will remove the buildings from October through December so the agency can implement soil cleanup and groundwater remediation plans, said Mike Basile, EPA spokesman.

The agency will discuss the upcoming project on Wednesday morning during a meeting with media.

The EPA said previously it would cost $14.5 million to knock down the remaining buildings at the former Diaz Chemical site and also remove the soil of contaminants.

The federal Superfund program didn’t have the money to move the project forward. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer visited the Diaz site last year and said he would push the Superfund money for the project.

The EPA already removed processing buildings and barrels of chemicals about a decade ago from Diaz. But Schumer said in August 2014 the site is still dragging down Holley, creating a blight in the community.

“This is not a health emergency but it’s an economic crisis,” he said then.

The remaining buildings at Diaz are in rough shape and are mostly fenced off from the public.

Diaz operated in Holley, working out of a former Duffy Motts site from 1974 until declaring bankruptcy in 2003. The EPA has been the caretaker of the property since then and spent $12 million taking down some of the buildings and removing barrels, pipes and some contaminants. But some buildings remain, as well as contaminated soil.

The south side of Jackson Street, Diaz’s production area, will be rid of the buildings. One warehouse from Diaz, however, will remain on the north side of the street, Basile said.

“We’re normally not in demolition mode at the EPA,” he said this morning.

However, the buildings are not in good shape and their removal is needed to address soil contamination at the site, Basile said.

Diaz had an accidental release in January 2002, and some chemicals landed on residential homes and yards. Eight homeowners moved out and didn’t come back. The EPA took possession of those houses and had them cleaned, but they’ve sat empty and off the market for a decade. Village officials are trying to work out a deal with the EPA so the homes can be put up for sale.

The EPA has supplies and equipment on site for the takedown of the buildings, which should be complete by December. The EPA said it has an air-monitoring program to ensure that dust suppression operations are working.

Once the buildings are down, the EPA plans more work for the site, including moving a 12-inch water main from the center of the site to along Jackson Street and South Main Street. This work is anticipated to start in spring 2016, the EPA said.

Part of the EPA’s proposed cleanup plan involves heating the soil to break down contaminants. The design of an in-situ thermal treatment system is on-going, the EPA said. The agency anticipates that design of the cleanup work for the soil will be completed in December 2016.