2007-06-15 / Community

Plans For Contaminated Site Cleanup Outlined

By Miriam Rosenberg

Robert Filkins, of the DEC, explains the history of the site and the proposed remedy for it.
Robert Filkins, of the DEC, explains the history of the site and the proposed remedy for it.

Representatives from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health have outlined proposed plans for cleaning up a hazardous waste site in the Dayton Plaza Shopping Center, which is located on Rockaway Beach Boulevard, between Beach 81 Street and Beach 89 Street.

The June 11 public meeting, held at PS 183 in Rockaway Beach, was part of the public review process for cleanup of the chemical tetrachloroethylene, also known as PCE or "perc," which was found onsite at the London French Dry Cleaners in the shopping center. The chemical, however, is no longer used at the dry cleaners, according to its owners.

"Remediation will begin after the approval of the [proposal by officials]," said Robert Filkins, the DEC's site project manager.

According to Filkins, a dry cleaning establishment has been on the site for the last 21 years. In the 1990's, the previous owners of the property did their own investigations for contamination.

Community Board 14's President Delores Orr and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer's chief of staff Joanne Shapiro question city and state representatives about the contamination.
Community Board 14's President Delores Orr and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer's chief of staff Joanne Shapiro question city and state representatives about the contamination. "In the fall of 2000, the [property] owner installed an air sparge, soil vapor extraction system (AS/SVE) that operated from October to June 2002 when the previous property owner sold the property," said Filkins. "In December 2002, the current owner entered into a voluntary cleanup."

According to the Department of Buildings website, the current owner is identified as FGP Rockbeach Inc., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

While previous samples of soil, groundwater and air showed that the contamination has impacted areas outside of the dry cleaners' property, current testing shows no impact to individual stores, except the London French Dry Cleaners.

Tests in 2004 showed impact areas expanding to the old Destiny Salon, Beauty and More, and some impact to Dano's Pizza to the west, and the Attixx Onne Furniture, the new Destiny Salon, and Rockaway Dental to the east.

Exhaust pipes, such as these four behind the Dayton Plaza Shopping, are part of the air sparge, soil vapor extraction system (AS/SVE) used to get rid of the contaminate vapors from the air.
Exhaust pipes, such as these four behind the Dayton Plaza Shopping, are part of the air sparge, soil vapor extraction system (AS/SVE) used to get rid of the contaminate vapors from the air. Christopher Doroski, of the New York State Department of Health said there is no danger to individuals from the contamination either through the air, which is being filtered through the air sparge, soil vapor extraction system (AS/SVE); or the water.

While residents and businesses use a public water system, the homes in the area use wells for their sprinkler systems.

"This is the first time I've heard of wells on the property," said Doroski. "It doesn't appear to be contaminated off-site. It appears to stop mitigation at the property line."

Both Delores Orr, the president of Community Board 14, and Joanne Shapiro, the chief of staff for Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, were amazed the DEC and DOH had no idea there were wells in the area.

"It's discouraging news that you got incorrect information that there are no wells in the area," said Orr.

Shapiro added a request to which Doroski agreed that "It is Assemblywoman Pheffer's position that you go back to your consultant …. and at least acknowledge the wells [are there] and are not affected."

Doroski believes that what is being picked up now [from air testing] is off-gases from the chemical, which will "eventually be cut off."

"The sub-slab is completely cutting off the pathway," said Doroski.

Filkins estimates that it will take 10 years for the cleanup to be completed.

"[The property owners] have to submit to long-term monitoring by the health department," said Robert Cozzy of the DEC. "We could step in [if the property owner stops cooperating] because it is registered as a hazardous site.

"By law they must notify the state if they are opting out of a voluntary agreement."

The proposals for cleanup are continued use of the air sparge/SVE systems and sub-slab ventilation systems; continued monitoring of the groundwater; continued evaluation of the potential for indoor impacts; and limiting the site to commercial or industrial use.

Among the five people who attended the meeting were James Lee (the current owner of the Dry Cleaners), Orr and Shapiro.

Those who want to comment on the proposal may do so until June 21. Residents of the area can review the documents for the Proposed Remedial Action Plan at the Peninsula Library on 92-25 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Community Board 14's office at 1931 Mott Avenue (room 311) in Far Rockaway, or the NYSDEC at 625 Broadway in Albany. After the public review, the DEC will review all comments and then make a determination.

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