The Charlestown Mall Site is a 16 acre former manufacturing facility dating back to the late 19th century. Manufacturing at the site slowed until the property was eventually sold in 1956 to Sperry Univac where early computer parts were developed and assembled. Sperry Univac operated at the site until operations ceased in 1976. Charles A. Gaetano purchased the property in 1976 and redeveloped a portion of the property as a retail shopping outlet known as the Charlestown Outlet Complex. The Charlestown Mall operated at the west end of the site until 1991 when the complex became the Charlestown Business Complex which housed commercial tenants of various types.
In 2008, the New York State Department of Labor discovered un-permitted ongoing demolition which resulted in a referral from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for EPA to evaluate the site for a time-critical removal action. A removal action was conducted at the site from 2010 - 2011 that primarily focused on a group of several buildings that contained asbestos prior to collapse and/or illegal demolition. During the course of the removal action, EPA also encountered and removed PCBs as well as drums containing hazardous substances. The removal action was completed in December 2011. In the years following the removal action, the buildings remaining at the site were not maintained, were subject to vandalism and occasional fires which were able to be contained.
Local fire departments responded to a fire call early in the morning of August 27, 2020 at the site. The fire resulted in the partial collapse of four of the seven remaining structures while six of the seven were damaged in the fire.
According to a 1996 Asbestos Survey conducted in several of the buildings, the presence of asbestos containing materials (ACM) including pipe insulation and various other materials was documented. In September 2020, NYSDEC formally requested that EPA perform a removal assessment at the site because of the potential threat posed by the presence of asbestos in building remnants.
EPA plans to take initial steps to restrict access to the site, post signs and conduct air sampling beginning in late October 2020.