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Environmental Cleanup- Emerson Street (former landfill site)


The Former Emerson Street Landfill (FESL) is a closed municipal solid waste landfill located in the western portion of the City of Rochester, bounded by Lexington Avenue to the north, Lee Road to the west, Ferrano Street to the south, and Colfax Street to the east.

Site Map 

Environmental Cleanup- Emerson Street Site Map


The FESL was approximately 250 acres in size and operated by the City from about the early 1940s to 1971 as a landfill. The landfill was used to dispose of ash derived from the incineration of municipal waste at the City’s incinerators. Although the majority of the material placed was ash fill, construction and demolition debris was also placed into the landfill in some areas. In addition, partially incinerated materials and direct burial were documented in the later years of operation. Landfilling began south of Emerson Street and gradually expanded northward and eastward to include areas between Emerson Street and Lexington Avenue and east of Colfax Street and south of Emerson Street and generally west of McCrackanville Street.

Fires due to incomplete incineration and open burning of refuse reportedly occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s due to operational problems with the incinerators. Fill during this time frame was reportedly being placed north of Emerson Street. In May of 1971 the City's incinerators were shut down; however un-incinerated municipal refuse continued to be placed north of Emerson Street until August 1971. At this time, refuse disposal was ceased at FESL and disposal shifted to a different county landfill. The landfill was officially closed and a contract for the closure of the eastern half of the landfill specified two feet of cover material (preferred to be a sandy loam) to be placed and compacted in one foot lifts. In September 1971, a contract was awarded for the closure of the western portion of the landfill.

Since closure, portions of the Site have been developed by various private parties mostly for commercial and industrial uses; however, Edison Technical School is located on the northeastern portion of the FESL. A portion of the FESL, (three parcels) which total approximately 15.65 acres, are listed as a NYSDEC Class 3 Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site (IHWDS), Site #828023, while the remaining parcels within the FESL have been de-listed. The parcels listed as IHWDS are identified on the Site Map above. A class "3" classification indicates a site "at which hazardous waste does not presently constitute a threat to the environment”.

Investigation & Mitigation 

In the 1980s, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) began to investigate the FESL. These investigations documented the presence of petroleum, metals, chlorinated solvents, and 100 cubic feet of radioactive waste sludge on the southern portion of the FESL which was considered to be a characteristic hazardous waste due to lead (D008 waste). As a result, the NYSDEC listed the FESL as an Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site (State Superfund Site Code #828023). The City conducted several environmental investigations at the FESL to evaluate subsurface soil and groundwater conditions across the FESL. Based on these studies, the majority of the FESL was delisted from the NYSDEC Registry Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites (IHWDS). 

Most recently, the City has conducted Soil Vapor Intrusion (SVI) assessments and some limited SVI testing at many of the properties on FESL. The historic information, subsurface testing and site reconnaissance results were utilized to develop a conceptual site model and this was utilized for determining the potential for SVI at each parcel due to the FESL.

Starting in 2009 the City of Rochester developed and implemented a Property Owner Soil Vapor Intrusion Technical Assistance Program for working with property owners in order to assess, investigate, and mitigate SVI due to VOCs or landfill gases associated with the Former Emerson Street Landfill. The City of Rochester completed two separate SVI reports dated June, 2011 and March, 2018. The 2011 report discusses filling history at FESL, a groundwater investigation, site reconnaissance, methane evaluation, and all the FESL properties SVI risk assessment ranking as of 2011. The 2018 report, undergoing NYSDEC and NYSDOH review and approval, details recent SVI testing conducted at the Former Emerson Street Landfill (FESL). As a result of the SVI assessments at the FESL, the City developed a Property Owner Soil Vapor Intrusion Technical Assistance Program that is available to current and prospective owners in order to address future issues with SVI associated with the FESL.  

The City has also been conducting an updated Remedial Investigation at 1700 Emerson Street to investigate the extent and magnitude of chlorinated VOC contamination in soil, waste fill, bedrock and groundwater in the portion of the FESL referred to as the P-1 Plume area. In preparation of proposing a remedy, the City has also completed a draft Remedial Investigation report, a Feasibility Study, and a remedial Pilot Study in the P-1 Plume area. Each of these reports are undergoing NYSDEC and NYSDOH review and approval.

Further Information 

For further detailed information, please refer to the following documents:

If you have additional questions regarding the FESL please contact Mr. Joseph Biondolillo, Associate Environmental Specialist, City of Rochester Division of Environmental Quality email him.