2009-02-27 / Top Stories

Groundwater Surrounding MGP Site To Be Retested

By Nicholas Briano

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has agreed to retest the groundwater beneath the former Rockaway Park Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) currently under remediation after Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer requested they do so earlier this month.

The ongoing community concern, mainly from the Rockaway Park Homeowners Association, about the air and groundwater quality led to the request that NYSDEC says will further ensure the health and safety of residents surrounded by the plant.

The project, which is being conducted by National Grid and overseen by the NYSDEC, began earlier this year. However, much of the work to this date has only been preparatory and actual digging of the toxic soil will begin sometime in March or April, according to NYSDEC.

According to data provided by National Grid, the water is being tested at locations on and off the site. Some wells to test the water are preexisting while others must be installed for groundwater testing to take place.

NYSDEC spokesperson Tom Panzone says that National Grid installed five new permanent groundwater monitoring wells in the locations of previously installed temporary groundwater monitoring points. This was done at Assemblywoman Pheffer's request, to provide assurances to the local residents. The testing is not expected to delay the project or shut it down for any amount of time.

"The site remediation work will not be shut down while these wells are installed and tested. This testing will not alter the currently planned remediation nor will it stall the progress of the cleanup," Panzone said.

He added that the testing conducted by National Grid is voluntary and in no way have preliminary groundwater samples proved to be harmful to members of the public living or working in the vicinity of the site.

"There is no evidence that groundwater under or near any of the private residences has been contaminated by the MGP site," Panzone said. "There is no reason to suspect that this will occur in the future. Groundwater from the site is moving in the opposite direction, away from the homes, so there is no reason to believe that site contamination would move towards those homes."

The major concern is for those homes that stand south of the site and are most vulnerable if the site's water is contaminated. The testing will include the water's general quality, the study of groundwater flows during low and high tides to confirm or deny the project officials' belief that the water beneath the site flows towards the Jamaica Bay side rather than the ocean side of the site, where all the homes are located.

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