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Manchester roundhouse probe underway

What lies beneath what was for decades the largest operating railroad roundhouse in the eastern United States? Likely a good amount of contaminants from more than 60 years of servicing engines and rehabilitating rail cars.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad Roundhouse is now the focus of an environmental investigation that will pave the way for a revival for the property in the village of Manchester.

The latest move at the 5.5 acre site involved X-ray technology. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pulling out all the stops to probe what remains deep underground at the roundhouse property that was recently cleared of dense vegetation and debris.

Manchester Town Supervisor Jeff Gallahan said it took about nine 30-yard dumpsters to clear the site so the EPA could come in and do its work. Helping remove and dispose of tons of material including 250 cubic yards of trees and debris were a number of entities including Ontario County, the town of Hopewell, the towns and villages of Phelps and Manchester, and Casella Waste Systems and Green Renewables, Inc.

Gallahan said he expects results from EPA testing within the next few weeks. Soil and groundwater tests are paid for through a $98,000 federal grant to investigate the site. Casella Waste Systems waived an estimated $9,000 tipping fee for debris collected.

Gallahan said residents are also on board supporting the project. Since the decades of growth were removed from the site people can see more clearly the massive roundhouse and nearby former fuel building. They have been talking it up and flocking to the area to take photos, he said. Warning folks to look from Merrick Circle, Gallahan said the buildings and property remain hazardous.

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