2002-11-30 / Editorial/Opinion

Cleaning Up a Toxic ‘Washing Machine’

Cleaning Up a Toxic ‘Washing Machine’

The old LILCO site that lines Beach Channel Drive from Beach 108 Street to Beach 110 Street was added to the State’s Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites (better knows as a "Superfund Site") as a Class 2 site in 1998. A Class 2 site "poses a significant threat to the public health or environment and requires remedial action." From the early 1880’s until the mid 1950’s, that site had been used by LILCO for a manufactured gas plant (MGP), leaving toxic residue to leach into the soil and into surrounding areas. Keyspan Energy, which owns the site, admits that the soil is a toxic "washing machine" that is constantly churning such chemicals as benzene, PAH’s and cyanide. The area is rife with coal tar and purifier waste. Now that the new substation has been erected on a non-polluted portion of the site and most of the old substation that dates to the 1920’s has been disassembled, it is time for Keyspan and LIPA (the company that sells the generated power) to do the right thing: to complete the remediation and to develop the land to the economic benefit of the community. The plan for remediation is beginning as you read this. The testing has been done and a plan will be submitted to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) by March. It will then be up to the DEC to take the ball and to tell the electric companies what they must do. We urge everybody concerned to cut the time to complete the job as much as possible. We do not need another bureaucratic mess involving a superfund site. We also want LIPA to scotch the rumors that it wants to place a fuel cell tank farm on the site when it has been cleaned. That is not what Rockaway wants nor what it needs. We have praised both LIPA and Keyspan in the past for doing the right thing on this site. Let’s hope that their good work continues now, when we need it most.

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