LIPA Informational Meeting Set for October 17
By Howard Schwach
The on-again, off-again meeting designed for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to explain to the community the efficacy of building a new substation on the old LILCO site on Beach Channel Drive between Beach 108 Street and Beach 112 Street is on again.
The meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, October 17 at 7 p.m. at the Beach Club, on Beach 116 Street.
The entire site has long been listed as a Class 2 Superfund Site, meaning that it was too toxic for use. According to the DEC, a Class 2 site "poses significant threat to the public health or environment."
For many years, it served LILCO as a Coal Gasification Plant, polluting the soil with the residues of the gasification process.
In August of 2000, Keyspan Energy, the owner of the site, petitioned the DEC to "redefine the boundaries of the Class 2 site," so that it could use a portion of the northwest corner for the substation, which it needed to replace a nearly 100-year-old station on the other end of the site.
Keyspan asked that the portion of the site be removed from the superfund registry because "there was no evidence of its use as part of the MGP (coal gasification) operations nor was there evidence of significant discharge or disposal" in that area.
In October of 2000, DEC concurred that there was "minimal contamination" in that portion of the site, and it "redefined the site," leaving out that northwest parcel."
Work then commenced on the site, although the community had never been notified that the parcel had been demapped or that LIPA has been given the DEC’s permission to do the work.
Community activists, noting that the work had begun without any warning or information, forced the company to halt work "until the community concerns were addressed."
A meeting set for that purpose was cancelled in the wake of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
Work had remained stopped.
Keyspan hopes to convince the community that it is safe to go ahead with the project on that site.
Many in the community, however, are unsure.
Liz Sulik, the president of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, has been Rockaway’s point person in this controversy.
"We should not allow them to do any work on the site until they clean up the entire thing," she argues. "We should not allow them to develop the site piece by piece."
"It is toxic, and it needs to be cleaned up," she adds.
The public is invited to the Beach Club meeting on October 17.