2004-08-27 / Front Page

$30 Million Plan to Clean Up Toxic Site

By Brian Magoolaghan

A $30 million plan could see the stretch of contaminated land, within the area of detail, cleaned up and developed. The agencies involved are soliciting feedback from the public. 

A $30 million plan could see the stretch of contaminated land, within the area of detail, cleaned up and developed. The agencies involved are soliciting feedback from the public. KeySpan Energy and two state agencies support a $30 million plan to clean up a toxic wasteland in Rockaway and they’re holding a public meeting next month to hear what residents have to say.

After years of studying the LILCO – Rockaway Park Manufactured Gas Plant on Beach Channel Drive between Beach 108 and 113 Streets, KeySpan, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ( dec) and the Department of Health are collectively endorsing a plan that could one day lead to development at the site, which has been a potential health hazard for more than 100 years.

The public has been asked to send comments on the proposal to the DEC between now and September 22. DEC representatives will also present the plan at The Beach Club, 129 Beach 116 Street, on Wednesday, September 8, at 7 p.m. and will record feedback from the public.

Details of the proposed remedy were recently released in a lengthy Proposed Remediation Action Plan, which described the site as a “significant threat to human health and the environment.” Residues from the gas production process – MGP tar and another cocktail of chemicals called BTEX – which has seeped into the ground and has started to migrate, contains nearly 20 different compounds. The DEC described six of them as “possible human carcinogens.”

The proposed clean up includes; an excavation of visible MGP tar to eight feet below ground level; installation of migration barriers at various depths below ground both on-site and off-site; new soil cover for the entire site; installation of passive MGP tar recovery systems; and soil gas vapor control methods under any existing or new construction and new fencing. KeySpan, which came to possess the site when LILCO and Brooklyn Union Gas Company merged to form a new energy company in 1998, would pay the cost of the clean up.

The DEC says the plan “prevents both human and ecological exposures and provides the best balance” by addressing all of the hazardous materials and landing in the middle of the potential cost range, however the question still remains as to what could be built once the work is done. Commercial development seemed to be the most popular choice at meetings on the subject held in Rockaway last year.

“We have always been looking for some kind of commercial/retail use,” Jonathan Gaska, Community Board 14 District Manager, told The Wave this week. “Quite frankly, no one is going to buy housing there.”

Douglas MacNeal, of the DEC Division of Environmental Remediation, said the cleanup would allow for “any sort of development, with restrictions” such as the depth to which foundations could be set.

The DEC will issue a “Responsiveness Summary” addressing comments and will release it to the public.

Copies of the plan can be viewed at the Peninsula Library Branch at 92-25 Rockaway Beach Boulevard or at the offices of Community Board 14 at 1931 Mott Avenue.

Comments may be sent to Douglas MacNeal, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-7014.

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