Hundreds of Corning Residents Briefed on Soil Remediation

Local News

Corning Incorporated and the State Department of Environmental Conservation briefed homeowners Wednesday night on the latest soil testing results in the Houghton Plot area.

Just last week 323 residential properties in that neighborhood received test results from the Department of Environmental Conservation — 133 of them learning areas of contaminated soil are present on their properties.

Those homeowners — and neighbors nearby – want to know what will be done to fix it.

That’s where Corning Incorporated comes in.

About a hundred years ago, Corning Glass Works, now Corning Incorporated, maintained ash dump sites on the area now in question.

While construction and additions were being made to Corning Painted Post High School in 2012, ash, brick, and glass were found in the soil – sparking a larger-scale investigation into the soil of surrounding neighborhoods.

What they found was contaminants in more areas.

Those contaminants include arsenic, lead, and cadmium in levels higher than what is allowed in New York State.

Corning Incorporated is now working with the D.E.C. to implement — and pay for – remediation of the contaminated soil.

“We’re part of the community and we’ve always stepped up when the community is in need and we’re going to work with the community to do what’s right,” Vice President of Corporate Communications for Corning Incorporated, Dan Collins said Wednesday.

“We have to follow the regulations and the instructions of the DEC in the program that they outlined. What we’re really doing is we’re implementing that program on behalf of the residents of the area [we] don’t really get to make a choice as to whether it’s a two inch deep concern or two foot concern the D.E.C. will tell us what needs to be done on the property and we’ll take the appropriate measures to remedy that for the homeowner.”

In addition to the residential properties, remediation steps are also proposed at Corning Christian Academy, the City of Corning Memorial Stadium, and the Corning Painted Post School District.

Department of Health officials say the contaminants present no immediate health concerns to the community…though these remediation steps are being taken to rectify any long term health concerns.

The D.E.C. also noted that groundwater in the affected areas has not been contaminated.

Extensive soil testing was completed at several hundred properties in what are considered the “Study Area” and the “Expansion Area” of Houghton Plot and the D.E.C. says more testing still needs to be done to understand the full-scope of the contamination.

“I think they’ve done a really great job,” said affected homeowner, Heather Pearson.

“They tested seven areas on our property. I thought [it] was fantastic, they were all over the front yard, backyard…different depths and they’ve been incredibly informative.”

Corning Incorporated and the D.E.C. will meet one-on-one Thursday and Friday with affected homeowners to discuss individual test results and proposed plans going forward.

Residents say while they wish the process could go faster, they all agree they want it to be done right.

“I’m an impatient type anyway but at this point in time I’m not sure that hurrying or trying to do things ‘half baked’ if you will is the right thing to do,” affected homeowner Charlie Darcangelo said.

“I  think taking your time and doing it right is what we need to do.”

“I wish it could go faster but we will be patient and do what we have to to make sure that our property is cleaned up,” Pearson said.

The D.E.C. briefed Corning City Council late Wednesday afternoon on the soil test results.

Corning Incorporated is also offering a Value Assurance Program to homeowners to make sure they receive fair market value for their property if they sell.

18 News will continue to provide more information for this ongoing story.

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