State Forces Cleanup Of Warrensburg Site

Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner John Cahill today announced a plea bargain forcing the demolition and cleanup of an abandoned factory in Warren County that is leaking oil into the Schroon River.

In the agreement signed today before County Court Judge John Austin, Warrensburg Board and Paper Corp. pled guilty to violating the state Environmental Conservation Law, an E felony. As part of the plea agreement, the company will soon begin tearing down its abandoned plant on Route 418 and cleaning up the site.

"This is the appropriate resolution of a serious environmental problem," said Spitzer. "The former owners of the property have admitted responsibility and, following aggressive work by my office and the DEC, they will soon begin cleaning up an environmental hazard that is threatening a great Adirondack resource."

DEC Commissioner Cahill said: "Our spills staff has done an outstanding job of containing and recovering as much oil as possible from the abandoned factory, but their efforts have been hampered by the unsafe condition of the building. I am very pleased that the demolition of the building will allow our cleanup work to continue so that we may protect the Schroon River from this environmental problem."

In April 1995, Department of Environmental Conservation personnel were called to Warrensburg Board and Paper - which ceased production following a 1976 flood - to investigate reports of an oil spill in the Schroon River near the factory.

DEC personnel determined that oil from the plant’s 20,000 gallon fuel oil tank was leaking into the building and then into the river. DEC placed a retaining boom on the river to prevent oil from moving downstream, the plant’s fuel tank was pumped dry and oil pooled in the basement was removed but not before some oil reached the river. Small quantities of oil continue to leak into the river, possibly from beneath the Warrensburg Board and Paper building which local officials have declared structurally unsafe.

Under the terms of the plea bargain, company Vice President Alexander Landy has assumed responsibility for demolishing the building and properly disposing of any hazardous materials found at the site. Landy has also agreed to address any environmental problems found within the building under the supervision of the DEC and the state Department of Health. In addition, Warrensburg Board and Paper Corp. today paid a $1,000 fine and its former owners remain potentially liable for past and future cleanup costs.

The Warrensburg Board and Paper Corp. case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Rocky Piaggione, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Unit. The case was investigated by DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Criminal Investigations.