Environmental Cleanup of Former Photech Site

The City's Commitment to Environmental Cleanup is Evident at Former Photech Site

The Former Photech Imaging Site (located at 1000 Driving Park Avenue) is in the final stages of demolition and cleanup; the end of a process where the City of Rochester is committed to cleaning up blighted abandoned industrial properties and turning them into sites that are ripe for redevelopment and reuse. These former manufacturing facilities, often known as brownfields, are typically contaminated due to past practices and operations, and as a result, are difficult to redevelop.

Site History

The former Photech Site was developed around 1948-1950 as a photographic film manufacturer, and was used for manufacturing of photographic film and photographic paper until 1991, when the site was abandoned in the middle of active production. The Photech facility utilized a variety of different chemicals throughout the manufacturing process and generated hazardous and solid wastes. As a result of the abrupt shutdown of the Photech plant in 1991, some chemical products and wastes were abandoned in place.

At that time, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) completed an emergency removal of abandoned waste, but the remedial work was just that: emergency in nature and scope. It did not cleanup or decontaminate all building materials. As a result, residual contamination is present in below-grade vaults, tanks, equipment and piping, and building equipment and building materials have been contaminated with large amounts of asbestos and other chemicals. Vandals have entered the buildings and removed metal piping which was insulated with friable asbestos insulation, causing significant releases of asbestos-containing materials throughout several buildings.  

The City Facilitates Cleanup

After the City acquired the property through tax foreclosure in 1997, it successfully secured $3.4 million in grant funding from the New York State Environmental Restoration Program to cleanup and demolish the existing buildings as well as address the soil and groundwater contamination.

The City has teamed with LaBella Associates and LeChase Construction Services to to complete asbestos abatement and building decontamination, followed by building demolition of the 15 former industrial buildings at the Photech site. Uncontaminated masonry from the demolition was crushed on site and reused as backfill. An interim grading and storm water drainage plan was developed, and a design phase investigation was completed to delineate the extent of metal contamination in soil and groundwater, targeting portions of the site that previously contained buildings.

Looking Ahead to Redevelopment

Development of a remedial work plan to specify procedures and methodology to remediate soil, groundwater, and the former wastewater recovery system is in progress. Upon completion, the work plan will be provided to NYSDEC and NYSDOH for review and comment in the fall of 2011. Remediation and cleanup is expected to take approximately one year. The City looks forward to the site's future redevelopment and reuse. The site could be well-suited for manufacturing, offices, warehouses, and related uses.

US EPA Grant-Funded Cleanup

The City applied for and was awarded $200,000 from US EPA to assist with the cleanup of the Photech site, focusing on Area of Concern #2 (AOC 2). AOC 2 contained the silver recovery wastewater system including a 12,000-gallon underground vault. Soil and groundwater in AOC 2 is contaminated with high concentrations of cadmium and silver.  Several remedial methods and technologies for soil and groundwater treatment were evaluated. The recommended method for AOC 2 consists of a combination of Soil/Liquid Removal and Disposal, and In-Situ Treatment of Metals Impacted Groundwater. This includes physical removal of the vault, tanks, associated piping, and subsequent disposal and recycling.

For further detailed information, refer to the Analysis of Brownfields Cleanup Alternatives (ABCA) Report.

Questions about the Photech Cleanup?

If you have additional questions about the project contact the City’s project manager, Mr. Joseph Biondolillo, Senior Environmental Specialist, City of Rochester Division of Environmental Quality at (585) 428-6649 or email him.