2000-10-21 / Front Page

Keyspan Energy Nearly Complete In Study Of Environmental Impact Of LILCO Site By John C. McLoughlin

Keyspan Energy Nearly Complete In Study
Of Environmental Impact Of LILCO Site
By John C. McLoughlin

Officials from Keyspan Energy met with Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer earlier in the week to discuss the environmental impact survey presently being conducted at the former LILCO site, a 10-acre parcel between Beach Channel drive and the Rockaway Freeway at Beach 108 street.

Used for nearly 65 years as a Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP), the site has been dormant for years with the exception of an active electric substation, an active gas regulator, storage, and a company vehicle parking area.

Previous studies done when LILCO owned the site determined the property contains residues common to former manufactured gas plants, including volatile aromatics such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and polycyclic hydrocarbons, and others. It had been determined in this earlier study that the residues have "moved off the site" and have interacted and contaminated groundwater. According to the studies done by LILCO, there "has been no exposure sufficient to have an adverse impact on the health of the people living near the site."

Since assuming responsibility fir the site, Keyspan has been eager to conduct environmental studies. In December, 1999, Keyspan reached an agreement with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct an updated and more comprehensive environmental study and to "remedy" the situation in order to eventually return the site to valuable use in the community.

According to Ted Leissing, jr., director of Environmental Risk Management for Keyspan, soil samples and ground flow are being observed and the consultants are "compiling all the data in a presentation to DEC."

Samples have been taken on the site and at various locations around the site, including the eastside of Beach 108 street (near the water treatment plant); southside of 108 street (across from the freeway, near Rockaway Beach boulevard); southeast corner of the parking lot on the site (closest to rear of Waldbaum’s); and the northside of Beach Channel drive. Keyspan could not get an access agreement from the City of New York to test the soil and water under city property on Beach Channel drive.

Thomas DeJesu, government relations director of Keyspan, said that the soil profiles, chemicals and geology from various points on and around the site were taken to get a "big picture analysis of the site." According to DeJesu, this will help Keyspan get a "better idea of methodology."

It is expected that the report will be completed and presented to DEC by the beginning of 2001 and information available to the public by the spring. DEC will determine what action needs to be done to cleanup the property, if any is necessary at all.

Assemblywoman Pheffer pledged her continued efforts in this matter in hopes of seeing the site on the market in a few years. "We’ve looked at this property for years…we want the process to move along," Pheffer said.

KMART and other developers have contacted Pheffer’s office, the community board and the Chamber of Commerce regarding the site.

By contracting with DEC, Keyspan wants to remove all potential liability before selling the site or making it available for other projects.

Keyspan has opened a document repository at Community Board 14’s office at 19-31 Mott avenue, Far Rockaway, to provide the public with access to reports, studies and plans.

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