2007-05-18 / Editorial/Opinion

OPINIONS

Time To Clean Up 'Toxic Washing Machine'

Nearly nine years ago, in September of 1998, the former LILCO Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) site on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 108 Street was put on the Superfund List as a Class II Inactive Toxic Waste Site. By the government's definition, that site was designated because "It was in need of remediation due to its danger to public health and the environment." And, while significant work has been done by KeySpan Energy, the owner of the site, to study it and to plan for the eventual cleanup, we think it's time to actually put a shovel in the ground and get what Keyspan's own experts termed "A Toxic Washing Machine" out of Rockaway. We have been on this story from the very beginning and it is getting old. In August of 2002, nearly five years ago, officials from the state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) told us that the final remedial plan would be ready by March of 2004 and that all of the work would take two to two and a half years to complete. At that time, the schedule was such that the site was to be given back to the community for development by mid to late 2008 or early 2009. In January of 2003, a new substation was built on a portion of the site was that not contaminated. With the exception of demolishing the old substation last year, not one shovel has been put into the ground to begin the "two to two and a half year" process of actually cleaning up the site. If KeySpan were to begin today, the cleanup would take us into 2010 and that is not acceptable to the community. What exacerbates the problem in Rockaway, where there are two toxic waste site (the other is on Brunswick Avenue in Far Rockaway) is that KeySpan is under fire for its toxic waste site remediation efforts in a number of Nassau County locations. Aweek after the company provided a "comprehensive report" detailing how it would clean up all of its sites, an independent expert in the field expressed "serious doubts" that the plan would work. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer has been the point person for Rockaway. She has steadfastly supported the community while working closely with the company. Perhaps it is time for her to get proactive. Nine years going on twelve is surely enough for the community to wonder about what is leaching out of its soil.

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