Vacuum Oil Brownfield Cleanup Program

DEC Site #: C828190

Site Location

The portion of the former Vacuum Oil Refinery site undergoing environmental investigation by the City of Rochester consists of eight parcels of land all owned by the City of Rochester totally approximately 15.4 acres (the “Site”).  The Site is located south of Flint Street, east of Exchange Street and is located near the western bank of the Genesee River across from the University of Rochester.  The Site is also located within the designated Vacuum Oil - South Genesee River Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) and is zoned R-1 for single family residential houses.  The Site is currently undeveloped vacant land except for an asphalt-paved recreational trail that runs through the eastern side of the Site from north to south, and a small grassy area that is located east of the trail along the Genesee River. The rest of the Site is wooded and contains remnants of the former Vacuum Oil Refinery facility including such features as canal walls, building floor slabs, building foundations, and other structures.  Click here for a map of the Site 

Environmental History

The majority of the Site was part of the former Vacuum Oil refinery and oil storage and oil blending facility which operated from about 1866 to 1930.  Other historical uses included railroads and canals for the shipment of raw materials and finished products. The Vacuum Oil Company was a predecessor of ExxonMobil Corporation. In 1989, a tar-like substance was encountered on property south of the site. NYSDEC excavated and properly disposed of the tar off-site.  In 1990, the City of Rochester prepared a report that describes property and traces the history of the Vacuum Oil Company. In 2001, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) completed an investigation of a 24-acre portion of the former Vacuum Oil facility south of Flint St. In 2005 and 2009 ExxonMobil evaluated historical and current site conditions, and completed a subsurface environmental investigation that expanded on the NYSDEC investigation.  In 2012 a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment report was prepared on behalf of the City of Rochester.  Based on these previous studies and investigations, soil and/or groundwater on portions of the Site are contaminated with volatile organic compounds or “VOCs”, semi-VOCs, and metals.

Brownfield Cleanup Program Remedial Investigation

The City of Rochester as a “volunteer” was accepted into the Brownfield Cleanup Program in April 2015.  O’Brien and Gere on behalf of the City of Rochester developed a draft investigation work plan, called a “Remedial Investigation Work Plan,” which was submitted to NYSDEC under New York’s Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP). The remedial investigation will be performed by O’Brien and Gere on behalf of the City of Rochester with oversight by both the NYSDEC and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).  The investigation will define the nature and extent of contamination in soil, groundwater and other media. The proposed remedial investigation includes the following tasks:

  • clearing paths to provide access for testing locations;
  • a geophysical survey to identify buried subsurface structures such as metal tanks;
  • surface soil testing to evaluate potential human exposures;
  • subsurface soil testing, and
  • groundwater testing to evaluate the extent of groundwater contamination at the Site.

Once the proposed remedial investigation work plan is approved by the NYSDEC and NYSDOH, a hard copy of the approved work plan will be made available to the public at the Phillis Wheatley Community Library (33 Dr. Samuel McCree Way) and also at the PLEX Neighborhood Association (Carlson Commons 70 Coretta Scott Crossing).  An electronic copy of the work plan will be available for review and download.  It is anticipated that the remedial investigation will take approximately one year or more to complete. When the remedial investigation is completed, a remedial investigation report will be prepared and submitted to the NYSDEC that will summarize the findings and results.  The NYSDEC will review the report and provide comments, and when appropriate, approve the final report. After the investigation, a cleanup plan, called a “Remedial Work Plan” will be developed and a Decision Document will be proposed.

Adjacent Properties at 5 & 15 Flint Street

A separate Brownfield Cleanup Program project is being performed by a private developer on the adjacent 5 Flint Street and 15 Flint Street properties (NYSDEC Site No. C828162). The 5 & 15 Flint
Street properties were also part of the Vacuum Oil refinery as shown on the attached map. Further information regarding the 5 & 15 Flint Street Brownfield Cleanup Program can be found at the Phillis
Wheatley Community Library (33 Dr. Samuel McCree Way ).

Have Questions or Require Further Information?

If you have questions about the project or would like more information, please contact:

Joseph Biondolillo, Sr. Environmental Specialist
Division of Environmental Quality, City of Rochester
(585) 428-6649 or email him 

To have the NYSDEC send you Environmental Site Cleanup and Permitting information directly to your email, the NYSDEC invites you to receive site information by email by signing up through the GovDelivery service available at