New York Governor Announces Comprehensive Cleanup Plans

Governor Hochul Announces Comprehensive Cleanup Plans for Former Lackawanna Bethlehem Steel Site

New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the selection of final cleanup plans for the estimated $69 million remediation of the former Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna.  The announcement builds on the progress already underway at the site, and construction to advance the cleanup plan is expected to begin next year.  In addition to addressing site-wide contamination, the cleanup will provide public access to Lake Erie for the first time in more than 100 years.

“My family worked at the Bethlehem Steel plant and I know first-hand what cleaning up the former site in Lackawanna means for the people who live here,” Governor Hochul said. “Today marks a critical milestone in the rebirth of this city and this project is the perfect example of how New York State is rebuilding communities by putting former industrial sites like Bethlehem Steel to good use, helping transform neighborhoods, protecting the environment, and jumpstarting economic development.”

Bethlehem Steel was once a major economic engine in Western New York, encompassing more than 1,600 acres for iron and steel production since the beginning of the 20th Century. Remediation of different sections of the property is being advanced through New York State programs, including DEC’s State Superfund Program, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Corrective Action Program, and the Brownfield Cleanup Program. Contamination at the site includes elevated levels of metals, including arsenic and other metals associated with manufacturing processes typical of the steel industry. In addition, the widespread use of rail transportation, oils, greases, and burning of fossil fuels impacted site soils with semi-volatile organic carbon compounds, specifically polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “The cleanup and redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel site will be transformative for the city of Lackawanna and all of Western New York.  This rebirth, advancing under DEC oversight to ensure it is protective of public health and the environment, will yield benefits for the entire community, improving recreation by providing access to the waterfront for the first time in more than a century and spurring development opportunities that will strengthen the region’s economy.”

The Statements of Basis finalized today and available on the DEC website at Environmental Cleanup at Former Bethlehem Steel Site – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, represent the remedy selected to address contamination related to the site and detail why this remedy was chosen.  These documents include a Responsiveness Summary that addresses public comments received about the proposals, which were announced in May 2021.  The cleanup is designed to restore the former Bethlehem Steel property in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment.  This sustainable restoration of the site advances DEC’s goals of preserving, restoring, and connecting the natural resources and resiliency features of the Lake Erie shoreline.

Remedial action plans (RAPs) will guide efforts that will be undertaken at the site.  In addition to addressing contamination, the cleanup and subsequent habitat restoration work will provide public access to the waterfront for the first time in more than 100 years.  The RAPs are required under the terms of the 2020 Order on Consent, a legal enforcement agreement between DEC, Tecumseh, and Tecumseh’s former parent corporation, Arcelor Mittal USA, to comprehensively clean up the former site of Bethlehem Steel at an estimated cost of $69 million.

DEC’s Consent Order legally requires Tecumseh and ArcelorMittal, the companies that acquired the environmental liabilities of Bethlehem Steel after its bankruptcy, to:

  • Complete a comprehensive remediation program that includes cleanup and monitoring of
  • 489 acres of the former Bethlehem Steel site nearest to the Lake Erie shoreline;
  • Provide closure and post-closure maintenance for the site, including financial assurances;
  • Reimburse New York State for costs incurred for oversight of the cleanup;
  • Support robust public participation and engagement in developing and implementing site cleanup plans;
  • Provide public access following cleanup to portions of the Lackawanna waterfront; and
  • Participate in a public/private partnership that will evaluate locations and designs to restore areas of Lackawanna’s shoreline and improve habitat.
  • Increasing waterfront access to Lake Erie is a key component of a sustainable economic development strategy for the site. DEC looks forward to working with community
  • stakeholders to develop plans for public access to the waterfront and habitat restoration opportunities along the lakeshore.