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Gordon Finishing Site

Site Contact:
Jeff M. Bechtel
On Scene Coordinator


Site Location:
19 State West State Street
Johnstown, NY 12095

The former Gordon Finishing Company provided local tanneries with a specialty service by dyeing and polishing tanned leather prior to their final preparation and packaging. The company was established in 1955 and closed in 1999 as a result of the closures of many of the tanneries in the region. Much of the work took place during the peak tannery season, however, sufficient work was submitted to sustain the facility during the remainder of the year.

Between February 19 and 21, 2002, a site assessment was conducted by EPA’s Region II Response and Prevention Branch in coordination with the US Coast Guard’s Atlantic Strike Team (USCG-AST) and EPA’s Removal Support Team (RST) contractor.

The site consists of one, three story wooden structure and is located in a commercial/residential area. The property itself is unsecured as there is no fencing around it. The door is padlocked however the first story windows are accessible to trespassers. It was observed during the assessment that there was damage to the floors as a result of water intrusion. Access to other floors is made difficult due to the deteriorated condition of the stair cases.

Various containers were observed on the ground floor as well as the second floor. Container sizes ranged from 55 gallon steel drums to less than five gallons. The containers themselves are in varying stages of deterioration. The general condition of the interior spaces is cluttered. Spilled material is evident on the floors and walls. Visual inspection and/or field screening indicated the presence of the following materials: arsenic containing compounds, dye concentrates, formic acid, silicates, sodium hydrosulfide and sodium hydroxide. In addition to the drums which contained material, there are approximately 100 empty 5-gallon pails of dye concentrate and 50 empty 55-gallon fiber and poly drums.

Several broken wooden tanning vats known to be contaminated with chrome and arsenic (data from similar items was collected during the KARG and Independent Leather removal actions) are present in the back yard. The property slopes towards the Cayadutta Creek which borders the back yard. Materials released from the site would flow to the creek or into the storm drain on the street.

Seventeen of the containers were sampled for Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) characteristics. Of the 17 container samples analyzed, 12 met the criteria to deem them RCRA hazardous wastes. The two primary criteria met were the characteristics of Ignitability and Toxicity for chromium as determined by the Toxic Compound Leachate Procedure (TCLP).