Former Emerson Street Landfill

Project Background

In response to new guidelines issued by New York State, the City of Rochester plans to investigate the possibility that vapors from the Former Emerson Street Landfill (FESL) may be entering buildings now located on the site. The City will perform appropriate mitigation procedures if vapor intrusion conditions are in fact discovered. Past investigations did not indicate any risk, but new guidance documents on vapor intrusion levels issued by NYS have initiated the City's reinvestigation of the site.

Where is the site located?

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

Check out a map of the site.

Site history

The Emerson Street Landfill was a 251 acre municipal landfill operated by the City from the early 1930s until it was closed in 1972. Municipal waste was incinerated on site, resulting in the generation of an ash-like material, which was subsequently disposed of in the landfill. After the closure, the site was purchased by the New York Urban Development Corporation for intended use as an industrial park. Today, the site is comprised of 44 separate parcels. None of the parcels are residential.

Site investigation and cleanup history

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) began investigating the FESL in the mid-1980’s. Since 1990, the City has completed several investigations and interim cleanup projects at the former landfill. Data from the City's prior investigations did not indicate that the building's occupants were at risk. Though the footprint of Edison Technical and Occupational Center is located on one of the 44 parcels, past data indicates that landfill materials are not located beneath the school building. 

New NYS standards prompt re-examination of the site

Past City investigations identified chlorinated solvent contamination of groundwater in some locations at the site. While not a focus at that time, chlorinated solvent contaminated groundwater has recently become an increasing concern to the NYSDEC and New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). Vapors from such contamination can migrate through the soil into basements and structures, potentially exposing building occupants.

The NYSDEC and NYSDOH have recently developed new guidance on vapor intrusion. As a result, these state agencies have begun to to re-evaluate previously investigated waste sites across the state, like FESL. 

What's next?

The City will hire a qualified environmental consultant and begin contacting property owners and occupants at locations where the potential for vapor intrusion is thought to exist. The City/consultant team will prepare a soil vapor intrusion investigation work plan which will be submitted to the NYSDEC for approval.

After NYSDEC work plan approval, the City and its consultant will begin to work with property owners and occupants to complete soil vapor intrusion assessments as warranted. If vapor intrusion problems are identified, the City will install appropriate vapor mitigation systems. Common soil vapor intrusion mitigation techniques for existing buildings include sealing contaminant pathways such as cracks in the floor, installing vapor barriers, building pressurization, or installing a sub-slab vapor depressurization system.


  • Near future: The City will begin to contact property owners and discuss the plan with them.
  • Early 2010: The City will submit the investigation work plan to NYSDEC for approval 
  • 2010-2013: Investigation and mitigation (when necessary) phase
  • Post 2013: Ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the site

Who can I contact for more information?

For more information, please contact Ms. Anne Spaulding, Manager of Environmental Quality, at (585) 428-6855, or email her.