Geneva, NY asked in Land Use & Zoning and Environmental for New York

Q: Thousands of rr ties on property in Ontario Co NY purchased approx 10 years ago.

DEC or EPA says they have to be removed Need advise on removal and who pays. What to do if they cannot pay??

1 Lawyer Answer

Greta Katrin Kolcon

Answered
  • Environmental Law Lawyer
  • Rochester, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Historically, railroad ties were often treated with creosote to preserve wood from rotting quickly. The EPA has determined that coal tar creosote is a probable human carcinogen, meaning that it is an agent directly involved in causing cancer.

Although there are special rules for railroads and utilities, in general in New York, railroad ties treated with creosote cannot be sold, burned, or disposed of unless in compliance with a permitted facility. This link will take you to the NYSDEC's page which discusses the current law: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/42394.html.

The issue as to who would be responsible for disposal of the railroad ties on your property may be complex, and would likely involve a review of the terms of your property purchase and specific factual issues regarding the current and historical use and operation of the property, as well as communications received from the NYSDEC and/or EPA, if any.

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