NYSDEC Site #: C828190


The portion of the former Vacuum Oil Refinery site that has undergone environmental investigation by the City of Rochester consists of eight parcels of land all owned by the City of Rochester totaling approximately 15.4 acres (the “Site”).  The Site is located south of Flint Street, east of Exchange Street and is located near the western bank of the Genesee River across from the University of Rochester.  The Site is also located within the designated Vacuum Oil - South Genesee River Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA).  The Site is currently undeveloped vacant land except for an asphalt-paved public recreational trail that runs through the eastern side of the Site from north to south, and a small grassy area that is located east of the trail along the Genesee River. The remainder of the Site is wooded and contains some remnants of the former Vacuum Oil Refinery facility and former railroad operations and infrastructure. The Site Map illustrates the specific parcels and boundaries of the City BCP Site, as well as the larger former Vacuum Oil Refinery footprint.  

Site Map

 Vacuum Oil BCP Project Area Map

History & Previous Studies

The majority of the Site was part of the former Vacuum Oil refinery and bulk oil storage and oil blending facility which operated from about 1866 to 1930 on 30 to 40 acres of land east of Exchange Street and both north and south of Flint Street.  Other historical uses included railroads and canals for the shipment of crude oil and finished petroleum products. The Vacuum Oil Company was a predecessor of ExxonMobil Corporation. In 1989, a tar-like substance was encountered on a property owned by New York State located immediately south of the Site.  NYSDEC excavated and properly disposed of the tar off-site.   In 1990, the City of Rochester prepared a report that describes property and traces the history of the Vacuum Oil Company.  In 2001, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) completed an investigation of a 24-acre portion of the former Vacuum Oil facility south of Flint Street.   In 2005 and 2009 ExxonMobil evaluated historical and current site conditions, and completed a subsurface environmental investigation on a portion of the Site.   In 2012 a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment report was prepared on behalf of the City of Rochester.  Based on these previous studies and investigations, soil and groundwater on portions of the Site are contaminated primarily with volatile organic compounds or “VOCs”, semi-VOCs, metals and other contaminants.

City of Rochester NYSDEC BCP Vacuum Oil Remedial Investigation Project

The City of Rochester applied and was accepted into the Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) in April 2015 as a “Volunteer” under the BCP.   Under an approved work plan, a comprehensive BCP Remedial Investigation was performed by O’Brien and Gere on behalf of the City of Rochester, with technical oversight by both the NYSDEC and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).  The investigation included test pits, test borings, installation of both overburden and bedrock monitoring wells, soil and groundwater sampling and analysis, and limited soil vapor sampling and analysis.  The Remedial Investigation defined the approximate nature and extent of soil and groundwater contamination at the Site, and evaluated the potential for contaminants to migrate off-site.  All field activities associated with the environmental investigation of the Site are complete, and in June 2019 a revised Draft Remedial Investigation report that summarizes the findings and results has been submitted to the NYSDEC for review and approval.  Once the Remedial Investigation report is approved, a Remedial Alternatives Analysis Report (RAAR) will be developed which identifies, evaluates, and details remedial alternatives to address contamination at the Site.  Further information including approved work plans and final reports regarding the City’s Vacuum Oil Brownfield Cleanup Program project can be found at the project document repository located at the Phillis Wheatley Community Library (33 Dr. Samuel McCree Way), or by contacting the NYSDEC Region 8 Project Manager, Frank Sowers (phone: 585-226-25357). 

Other NYSDEC BCP Projects in the Vacuum Oil BOA

Two other NYSDEC Brownfield Cleanup Program projects are being performed by a private owners and developers.  The first BCP project is located at 5 Flint Street and 15 Flint Street properties (NYSDEC Site No. C828162), and second BCP project is located at 936 Exchange Street and 22 Flint Street properties Site Code (C828193) which were also part of the former Vacuum Oil refinery site.   Further information regarding these two other Brownfield Cleanup Program project sites can be found at the Phillis Wheatley Community Library (33 Dr. Samuel McCree Way) or by contacting the NYSDEC Region 8 Project Manager, Frank Sowers (phone: 585-226-25357).

Further Information

For further detailed information, please refer to the following documents:

If you have any questions regarding the Vacuum Oil Site please contact 

Jane MH Forbes, Senior Environmental Specialist
Phone: 585-428-7892


Harold Thurston, Associate Environmental Specialist
Phone: 585-428-6721