From 1945 until 1984, 60 Main Street in Sleepy Hollow (then known as North Tarrytown) was a battery factory operated by Duracell. It was a Superfund site due to toxic contamination, but was then de-listed after a 1993 cleanup. The village bought it in the 1990’s for $1 from Gillette, who had acquired Duracell in the interim, and the acquisition was not without controversy- the then mayor was opposed by the village legal team and the planning board, especially in light of the fact that there was not a thorough environmental vetting of the site, which is now a parking lot.
Fast forward to 2008, and the area’s history is still not lost on area real estate buyers, one of whom had the soil tested on a home they were considering purchasing on the south side of the property. Mercury levels were measured at 5 times the acceptable level, and lead was high as well.
The village is now facing an environmental cleanup that may exceed $1 million, a massive amount of money for a village of 7000 people. Why? Because Gillette hasn’t owned the property for 7 years, and the responsibility may lie in the lap of the village.
One can only wonder why the mayor would buy that land without an extensive environmental due diligence study. One can only wonder what the contamination did to residents, who may have severe health consequences that have yet to manifest themselves. Sleepy Hollow now either has to pay a massive legal bill to get Gillette to pay up, or pay a massive cleanup bill themselves.
And to think it all started with a home purchase soil test.