2011-04-01 / Letters

National Greed

Dear Editor,

While driving past the old LILCO/LIPA/Nat. Grid toxic waste site on Beach Channel Drive (BCD) between Beach 108 and Beach 112, any local would wonder why it looked as though it has been abandoned since the week ending October 8, 2010. The tent that was supposed to withstand 110 mile winds is tattered beyond repair by winds that never even reached 50 mph. How secure were the toxins in the ground? Were they just blowing around the neighborhood? Did National Greed intend to leave the site in the current hazardous deplorable condition in perpetuity? Why hasn’t Nat Greed completed the project they said would take 14, then 20 months by their July 2010 completion date?

Why haven’t Greed spokesmen announced their intentions in “The Wave”? Many of these questions will be addressed and many will not at a Greed appearance at our next endless Community Planning Board meeting on April 12. It is significant to know the background of the land on BCD between Beach 108 and Beach 112. It was owned by LILCO until approximately ten years ago when LILCO became LIPA. At the time it belonged to LILCO, a publicly owned company open to litigation, it was revealed by a member of LILCO’s real estate division that the land was contaminated and all the soil 8’ down had to be removed and sent to a cooking plant in Connecticut where the soil could be sanitized and returned to its place of origin. The cost of such a project was estimated at $3,000,000. LILCO’s real estate spokesman revealed LILCO had no interest in the land and had no intention of cleaning it up. Enter LIPA, then, enter National Greed. Why would Greed want to clean it up now at an original approximate cost of $30,000,000? What is in it for them?

Some ten years ago, there was activ- ity at the aforementioned waste site. It seemed that LILCO became an authority, LIPA, which cannot be sued and LIPA required a larger sub-station from which to generate electricity to the west end. But the entire site was contaminated with life threatening toxins. How could anyone be tampering with the soil? Audrey P’s office was contacted to inquire as to what was happening on the site. Won’t the toxins on the land be disturbed during the construction of the new substation? Audrey was asked when she intended to inform the community as to what was planned for the property?

Didn’t we deserve to be in the loop? There were no meetings scheduled was the word from her office. However, the project was stalled as a meeting was put together lickety-split between Doug MacNeal (still aboard) of the DEC, LIPA reps in their blue suits, her rep, and two locals.

What transpired at that first meeting was incredible. That was, a LIPA spokesman pointing to a site map proclaimed there was only one portion of the land that was not contaminated and that was the precise piece LIPA needed to relocate their substation; and, miraculously, it happened to be on a direct line with the old sub-station. With common knowledge the contamination had already migrated across the street to the Mobil station and under Waldbaum’s, it seemed impossible that all of those carcinogenic in-ground chemicals skipped over the very piece of land LIPA required on the corner of Beach 112 and was detected across the street.

After a second meeting in the conference room at the library on Beach 92 Street, LIPA not only broke toxic ground to build their sub-station, but they further contaminated the land by using creosote laden carcinogenic pilings driven into the contaminated ground to support the weight of the substation. LIPA, in essence, flipped Rockaway the bird.

It seemed amazing that when the LIPA substation was completed, the land suddenly belonged to National Greed, er Grid, another authority, not open to legal action. Work started on remediating the waste site three summers ago without anyone communicating what was being done and how it was being done to the community. Audrey P’s office was phoned to find out how such a massive clean-up project could be started without any community meetings or input? Meet-ings were immediately scheduled by Audrey; but, community input was rejected as Greed, the DEC and the politicians clearly had their own agenda. In other words, Greed was doing something to us when they should have been doing something for us. We suggested moving the contaminated soil by barge. They said no. We suggested moving the toxic soil in sealed containers. They said no. Are you getting the idea that Greed cares not what they can do for us? Posillico Trucking would have been transporting highly toxic soil through our neighborhood in thousands of truck loads with our politician’s knowledge and they had no intention of passing this information along to the community. Helen Marshall knew. Malcolm knew. Audrey knew. Anthony knew. We were kept in the dark. Why weren’t any of our politicians outraged at the prospect of tons of toxic soil being trucked out of our neighborhood in trucks covered by a mere tarp? In truth, Grid devised a plastic liner/ cover to ‘seal’ the trucks leaving our neighborhood. However, an on-site daily observation report dated 2/25/09 cites trucks leaving the site unsealed.

Greed was doing something to us when they should have been doing something for us. The community should have been able to rest easy because of who had our backs: The Identification of Affected and/or Interested Parties in the Citizens’ Participation Plan listed Helen Marshall, Audrey Pheffer, Malcolm Smith and Anthony Weiner as our political protectors.

For the last 5 months, Greed has stopped work at the site. One reason might be because it now says it can no longer meet the standards they set for themselves in their original proposal establishing a Waterloo Barrier on the north side of the site along BCD to prevent contamination from seeping into the bay, perhaps the most critical part of the original proposal agreed to by the DEC. Greed now claims the sand is too dense. The barrier is described as being 695 feet in length. The centermost 250-foot section of the barrier is 120 feet deep tapering off to either a 50’ or 80’x 455’ on either side. (http: www.rockaway parkmpgsite.com/key. docs.reports.html). This barrier, the cornerstone of the project, is only now being questioned when the density of the sand that Greed says is preventing them from digging to prearranged depths was the same density five years ago when the plan they submitted was approved. Is it true that DEC has ‘approved’ Greed’s new ‘plan’ that gets them off the hook by compromising the originally proposed depth of the Waterloo Barrier?

In its arrogance, Greed has shown elitism as the authority it is; but, has also shown distain for our community. It tried to ‘pull off’ their plan for the toxic waste site without communicating their intentions to the community. It ‘miscalculated’ the size of trucks in its plan trying to squeeze oversized truckloads threatening the integrity of the MP Bridge. It allowed Rockaway breezes to blow across the brown site uncontained for the last 5 months. It ‘miscalculated’ the depth of the Waterloo Barrier they originally proposed. Could it be possible that Greed knew about the problems of the Waterloo Barrier and the dense sand beforehand and wrote it in the proposal to get DEC approval?

Where were our protectors?

The DEC and the politicians involved must hold Greed to their original contract. Greed must assume the costs for completing the project and devise a way to dredge down the number of feet they originally proposed in order to seal off leaching of carcinogenic toxins into our bay. Half way won’t cut it. They must resume work immediately as they never should have been allowed to stop in the first place; and, get it done. And, for those purists in the neighborhood who believe Greed when they say they have no designs on the acreage they sanitized after having spent up-wards of now $40,000,000 to ‘clean’ it, at least admit they might not be telling us the truth.

JOAN METTLER

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