2010-09-17 / Top Stories

MGP Site Opponent Digs For Nothing

By Nicholas Briano

Ronald Joseph, a Rockaway Park resident residing across the street from the site of the former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) under remediation, has argued since the project’s inception that the contaminants beneath the site have migrated under his property.

However, for some reason, despite National Grid offering to test the groundwater and soil beneath his home (Joseph claims they cancelled appointments to do so numerous times), it was never tested for remnants of the MGP site. Then, at a public MGP Task Force meeting in May, Joseph asked National Grid for a monetary payment in exchange for accessing his property. After much wrangling Joseph finally agreed to have the site tested this past June.

In a report obtained this week by The Wave, testing conducted beneath Joseph’s Rockaway Beach Boulevard property showed that there were no indications of groundwater, soil, or soil vapor contamination on the site of his property although Joseph’s concrete belief all along has been that engineers at the site were wrong and were lying to him.

“The groundwater samples collected from the shallow and intermediate monitoring wells did not contain detectable levels of MGP site-related chemicals,” Joseph was told in a letter from the National Grid Project Manager.

Instead the only compound detected in the vicinity of the testing wells (samples were taken as far down as 45 feet), was methyl-tert-butyl ether (MTBE).

The letter to Joseph continued, “MTBE is a gasoline additive and is not related to the MGP operations at the site.”

According to the results, this relieves National Grid of any further obligation to Joseph including decontamination of the soil under his home of the MTBE compounds. The readings indicate the possibility that a gas station may have once existed at Joseph’s current residence or nearby, considering MTBE is a compound typically found beneath former gas stations, according to project officials. In the event MGP related chemicals were found, National Grid would have been responsible for remediating Joseph’s property.

“Based on the results of this sampling, it does not appear that your property is impacted from the historic operation of the former MGP site,” the letter concluded.

The MGP site is located along Beach Channel Drive from Rockaway Freeway to Beach 108 Street. National Grid is in the process of finishing its final excavation location and is expected to be completely finished by December. Challenges installing the barrier wall on the Beach Channel Drive side of site have delayed the project. The barrier wall is meant to reach an installed depth of 120 feet, but National Grid has experienced setbacks near the 80-foot mark where compacted soil and mineral products are too hard to drill through. In order to install the wall, alternate methods are being considered, but will take longer and delay the project which was supposed to conclude this month.

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