2006-07-14 / Community

KeySpan Gives Update on Toxic Site

By Brian Magoolaghan

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (standing) inspects a blueprint of the remediation plan submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation in May. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (standing) inspects a blueprint of the remediation plan submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation in May. The Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing a remediation plan from KeySpan Energy for the contaminated site in Rockaway Park, and approval could clear the way for cleanup work there by next year, representatives from the energy company said this week.

"We'd like to start work in the first quarter of 2007," said Thomas J. Campbell, a Senior Engineer with KeySpan. Campbell and other company reps met with community representatives Tuesday in Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer's office.

Campbell said the DEC is reviewing a cleanup plan that calls for the removal of 80,000 cubic yards of contaminated material from the site, capping with 2-8 feet of new material and the installation of migration barriers - walls as much as 120 feet deep to block contaminated soil from spreading - and the installation of wells that would be monitored for years to come. He said KeySpan came up with the plan after years of studying the site.

The DEC can approve, disapprove or make further recommendations, he said. "I Know they're looking at it right now," he told Pheffer, and others including Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joanie Omeste.

Approval doesn't, however, clear a path for the actual cleanup to begin. Campbell said there are "several more steps" before that can happen. It would allow KeySpan to bring their planning to the final stage and hire contractor. But first, the public can expect at least two opportunities to hear about the project in person.

The site, located between Beach 108 and 112 Streets and Beach Channel Drive and Rockaway Freeway, was formerly a manufactured gas production site. It was labeled a superfund (toxic) in 1988 and has been moving slowly towards remediation since the late 1990s.

The KeySpan reps agreed to update the public at an open meeting in either late summer or early fall. The DEC will hold a more formal public comment session, too, they said.

One thing that is supposed to happen soon is the demolition of a threestory building on the property which is slated for fall. So far, no dates have been set.

Pheffer expressed worry over British utility company National Grid's bid to acquire KeySpan. The Associated Press reported this week that the Federal Trade Commission gave the $7.3 billion deal the ok. It's far from done deal, but Pheffer suggested an acquisition could delay or jeopardize the remediation effort in Rockaway.

"That's something I'm going to keep bringing up," she said.

If KeySpan's existing plan is carried through, the site, located between Beach 108 and 112 Streets and Beach Channel Drive and Rockaway Freeway, would be cleared for industrial, commercial or residential use. Digging on the site would be restricted.

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