2008-12-26 / Letters

Toxins In Ground Not Harmful

Dear Editor,

Unfortunately, but, predictably, the December 18, toxic waste site meeting was sparsely attended. However, those in attendance were extremely educated and prepared to confront the moderator of the meeting in matters affecting our community. The four areas where Gunthar Cross, hazardous waste specialist from the DEC, was proven to be wrong, untruthful and downright silly, prompted those assembled to ask the following questions:

Why does the remediation have to be now? Cross was asked, if the toxins stay in the ground will they harm anybody? The answer was, "No." Mr. Cross was asked why the clean-up has to be done by using 9000 trucks when on-site remediation through green chemicals is available? Mr. Cross first said the green method of clean up would not work on our type of contamination. It was pointed out that a biochemical company was hired by National Grid to develop a green method of cleanup. It was further pointed out that this method is being used in Bayshore, Long Island at another MGP site in conjunction with other methods of cleaning the toxins. Cross insisted that trucking was the only way to clean up this site.

It was, further, brought to Cross's attention that digging would only clean 8 feet down while chemical implantation could remediate toxins that have been measured at 136 feet deep. Cross repeated that trucking would be the best way to clean the land, and what was left would have to remain there. The follow-up question to Cross was why Grid has chosen to clean up only a part of the site knowing the probability of recontamination from the uncleaned portion of the site. Cross told us that it was unnecessary to clean the entire site as the entire site has not tested dirty. Cross was asked when the site was last tested for anything. He responded that the last time the site was tested was nearly six years ago. Audience members demanded the area be re-tested to reflect 2009 not 2003.

The following bit of repartee opened the eyes of any skeptics who bothered to show up. Cross was asked about the contamination at the Waldbaum's site, which he referred to as the Belle Harbor Site. He said with absolute certainty that the toxic waste had not migrated beyond the borders of the original site. He was further asked about the chemicals at the Mobil Station and those found at Waldbaum's. He said the tar-like substance was only found in one place on the Waldbaum's site and when asked how he thought it got there, he said, "Somebody probably dumped it there." At the conclusion of the meeting Mr. Cross told the audience that if Waldbaum's is found to be an active MGP site, then it might have to be torn down in order to properly remediate the waste in the land. He later recanted that statement.

Cross also stated that he had studied the tides created by the bay that flow beneath the toxic site and there was no way toxins could travel toward the ocean off the site. A gentleman from Broad Channel, an expert in tides, educated Mr. Cross in the reality that any toxins coming onto the site with the tides from the bay combined with the disparity of the height of the bay tide vs. the beach tide made it a sure thing that contamination would be pulled off-site to the other side of the freeway toward the ocean.

Surely the information batted about during this meeting must serve notice to our community that we cannot allow this project to go forward as planned in that we have not been let in on the whole truth with respect to, at the very least, the extent of the contamination and alternate ways the cleanup can be done without exposing our residents to inhaling diesel exhaust of 9,000 trucks.

Why, we must ask ourselves, is this cleanup being pushed down our throats in this way at this time? If there are no sensible answers to these questions we must follow the money. Two companies stand to make money on this deal: the trucking company and National Greed (sic). We must also ask ourselves why Audrey Pfeffer has been such a driving force behind this project. Remember, it is possible there is a clean, green bio-chemical on-site resolution to the cleanup. Why hasn't this chemical been tested on our site? Is it for fear it might work? If you are as skeptical about the project and the health risks it brings to our neighborhood, phone the office of Audrey Pfeffer and demand the project be shelved.

JOAN METTLER

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