2007-05-25 / Community

Contamination Found At Dry Cleaners

DEC and State DOH Propose Cleanup Plan For London French Dry Cleaners
By Miriam Rosenberg

The DEC and NYSDOH are proposing remedies to the contamination that has been found in on-site soil, groundwater and soil vapor at the London French Dry Cleaners on Rockaway Beach Boulevard.The DEC and NYSDOH are proposing remedies to the contamination that has been found in on-site soil, groundwater and soil vapor at the London French Dry Cleaners on Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has begun the process to eliminate contamination that has been found in on-site soil, groundwater and soil vapor at the London French Dry Cleaners on Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

According to a fact sheet released by the DEC, the contamination is a result of "past waste management practices of the site's active dry cleaner."

The London French Dry Cleaners, which is located in the Dayton Plaza Shopping Center at 85-15 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, has been at the site for approximately 21 years.

In the late 1990's the previous owners of the property conducted their own investigations for contamination.Those investigations revealed that tetrachloroethene, also known as PCE or "perc," had contaminated soil and groundwater beneath the site.

At that time, the previous owners installed an air sparge, soil vapor extraction system (AS/SVE) to address the problem. The AS/SVE was taken offline after the property was transferred to new owners.

Maureen Wren, of the DEC, explained how the AS/SVE works.

"It helps extract the contamination in soil vapor," said Wren. "The concentra

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tion decreases over time."

Wren said the system forces air into the underground and acts as a vacuum. "The [air] is treated before it is released back into the environment," she continued.

In 2002, the DEC listed the site as a Class 2 Hazardous Waste Site, where "hazardous waste is deemed a significant threat to the public health or the environment and action is required."

The current owners signed a Voluntary Clean-up agreement in December 2002 and conducted their own investigation from February 2003 to November 2006 to define the nature and extend of any contamination.

Jonathan Gaska, district manager of Community Board 14 told The Wave how the DEC explained the problem to him.

"It is common in this industry," Gaska said about the dry cleaners. "Older dry cleaners did not dispose of [this chemical material] the right way…requirements weren't as stringent as they are now."

Gaska also said "It's not the same as the LIPA site. It's something they do on a regular basis."

The fact sheet obtained by The Wave addresses health related concerns residents may have about the contamination such as exposure to contaminated soil. The fact sheet calls any such exposure "limited because the entire site is paved."

Wren said the "pavement acts as a barrier" between the contaminated soil and humans.

The DEC has no concerns about contamination to drinking water, because the community receives its water by a public water supply. Restarting the AS/SVE system and installing sub-slab depressurization systems in stores in the shopping center eliminate exposure from soil vapor intrusion.

On June 11, the DEC and the New York State Department of Health will hold a public meeting to discuss the contamination issue. At that meeting residents will learn the result of site investigations. The agencies will also explain the proposed remedy to the issue which includes keeping the AS/SVE and sub-slab vapor mitigation systems running; imposing an environmental easement, so any future owners continue to use the systems; and periodic groundwater monitoring and verification of negative sub-slab ventilation pressure.

Any questions about the problems will be answered at the meeting. Residents can review the Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP) at the following sites: the Peninsula Library at 92-25 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Community Board 14 at 1931 Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway or at the NYSDEC at 625 Broadway in Albany.

A public comment period runs from May 22 to June 21. Written and verbal comments on the proposal will be accepted at the meeting and continue to be accepted until June 21.

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