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Chemical Disposal Site


The Chemical Disposal Site (CDS) is located in the Town of Lansing, in Tompkins County, New York. The disposal site itself is about 200 feet by 200 feet in size (about 1 acre), and is part of an area of about 5.5 acres. The site is surrounded by an 8-foot-high security fence with locked gate, preventing access to the site. Snyder Road bounds the property on the south, and land owned by Cornell University lies to the north, east, and west.


The CDS was developed in 1962 for disposal of chemical waste from the university's laboratories and research facilities in compliance with State and Federal regulations in effect at that time. Disposal operations continued at the site until 1977.

During that time, nine disposal cells were created for various uses. These included: neutralization of mineral acids such as sulfuric, nitric, and phosphoric acids; burial of chemicals in glass or metal containers; burial of gas cylinders; disposal of waste fuel oil; and evaporation of volatile solvents. Some of the cells consist of areas where material was placed on the ground surface and then covered with earth, forming a mound, while others were excavated to depths ranging from 6 to 15 feet before being filled with material for disposal and covered with earth.

Clean-up Progress and Monitoring

Clean-up work at the CDS has been completed in phases, in accordance with the regulatory procedures of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Between 1990 and 1992, Interim Remedial Measures (IRMs) were designed and constructed to keep chemicals from leaving the area. Three barriers were constructed at the site: a synthetic impermeable cover (a cap) was placed over the waste to keep precipitation from coming in contact with the waste and to isolate the waste; an underground clay barrier wall was placed around the waste with pumps inside the waste area to pump out contaminated water from within the waste disposal area; and a trench and wells were installed on the airport property to capture contaminated water that had migrated away from the site. A groundwater treatment plant was constructed to treat the water that was pumped from the disposal site and the recovery wells. In December 1998, the Plume Collection System (PCS) was upgraded to prevent the migration of contamination beneath and past the existing trench. Cornell University is currently operating and maintaining these IRMs, which are designed to define, control, and ultimately remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from groundwater in and around the site, as well as to prevent further releases from the former disposal area.

Environmental monitoring of the site and surrounding area is performed on a regular basis according to the monitoring plan approved by the NYSDEC. Groundwater and surface water are tested every three months and treated water is tested every month at the groundwater treatment plant before discharge to a nearby stream to ensure the treatment process is removing contaminants and meeting the NYSDEC discharge requirements. Annual reports with the results from monitoring are submitted to the NYSDEC.