Ballston Spa Village Board/Ballston Journal

Rickett’s May Go on State Superfund

BALLSTON SPA – The closed Rickett’s Laundry site on Doubleday Avenue at the north end of the village may be put into the state Superfund cleanup program.

State and federal officials on Monday gave the Village Board an update on the Rickett’s project.

Michael DiPietro, a geologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Environmental Remediation, said cleanup of the site “will move forward” under state supervision, probably under the Superfund. Until now, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has been lead agency on the project, and in May reported that the air in nearby homes has not been adversely affected by polluted groundwater coming from the 1.4-acre Rickett’s site.

Eric Obrecht, another DEC official, told the Journal that the DEC recently sent a letter to the Rickett family members who own the site, saying they might be liable for cleanup costs. He said the state seeks a “viable responsible party” to pay for environmental remediation, but often one cannot be found to pay for much of it, in which case a legal settlement is usually reached and the state pays most of the costs through the Superfund program.

Don Graham, on-scene coordinator for the EPA, said the Rickett’s site is “very contaminated,” and estimated cleanup would cost several million dollars. The pollutants found there –chloroform, TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride, benzene, and naphthalene — include human carcinogens. But he said the problems are typical of dry cleaner sites, that the most dangerous chemicals were not used in Rickett’s more recent years of operation (it closed in 2013), and the family owners have been very cooperative in helping the EPA address the pollution issue.

In other business regarding another closed laundry site, Mayor John Romano said the 6.35-acre Angelica property on Bath Street is on the market for $799,000, even as the environmental remediation and demolition process continues there. The mayor said he would like the zoning changed from industrial to “central business district,” facilitating construction of a multi-store retail complex with residences above. Changing the zoning would involve holding a public hearing and passing a local law.

The board voted 3-1, with Trustee Bob Cavanaugh voting no, to move a stop sign on Malta Avenue from East Grove Street to Hyde Boulevard.

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Reporter Bob Conner has worked 21 years in various positions at the Gazette of Schenectady, and before that four years as a reporter at the Glens Falls Post-Star. He won two first-place writing awards from the New York Associated Press Association for newspapers with circulation between 50,000 and 250,000. Bob has a Phi Beta Kappa bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University, and an associate’s degree in chemical dependency counseling from HVCC. He is a published author and is currently writing a historical novel about the last four months in the life of Ulysses S.Grant

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