Deferiet Paper Mill (“Site”) is an inactive paper mill. The original paper mill was established in 1899 and throughout the ages has undergone various expansions as well as having numerous owners.
Many of the milling machines and dryers were steam driven. Like many of the mills in the area that flanked the Black River, a hydroelectric power plant was built by the mill to operate the boilers.
In the case of this particular site, the hydroelectric power plant shares a common wall with the boiler room.
In the mid-1990s, the owners at the time sold the hydroelectric plant along with two easements to the regional utility company, Niagara-Mohawk. Niagara-Mohawk in-turn sold the hydroelectric power plant to Brookfield Renewable Power, LLC (Brookfield) – the current owners.
The last owners declared bankruptcy and the property was auctioned off in circa 2006.
Deferiet Development, LLC purchased the Site through the auction; their only interest in the property was to recover the stainless steel, brass and other metals.
Purportedly, Deferiet Development, LLC has not paid property taxes from the time they acquired the Site. In addition to recovering the stainless steel and brass, Deferiet Development, LLC had started to dismantle the accessible steam pipes for the steel value; in the process, they left exposed damaged asbestos lagging. Many of the steam pipes cut down by Deferiet Development, LLC were between the boiler room and the machine room; both buildings flank Brookfield’s easement.
This had the unfortunate consequence of potentially exposing the employees of Brookfield making use of their easement to access the power-plant.
Brookfield raised their concerns with Jefferson County and in-turn, an attorney representing Jefferson County in environmental issues referred the Site to EPA.
A verbal authorization was granted by the Director of Emergency and Remedial Response Division to initiate an emergency response action