2011-06-24 / Top Stories

Waldbaum's Site Contaminated

Found Chlorinated Solvents Under Supermarket
By Howard Schwach

Site Location Map provided by the DEC Site Location Map provided by the DEC The five-acre site on which Waldbaum’s supermarket and several other stores are located is contaminated with harmful chlorinated solvents, a report by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said this week.

“Waldbaum’s and the DEC performed remedial investigation work under the Voluntary Cleanup Program on the site from 2000 to 2009 to determine the nature and extent of the contamination on-site,” said Thomas Panzone, a DEC spokesperson. “These investigations consisted of the installation of numerous soil borings and the survey and sampling of off-site and on-site monitor- ing wells. These investigations have detected chlorinated solvents in the soil, soil vapor, and groundwater beneath the Site.”

According to the United States Geological Survey, “Chlorinated solvents in general are harmful to human and ecological health. They can cause or are suspected of causing cancer, and are toxic or harmful to aquatic organisms.”

The USGS adds that the properties of the chlorinated solvents make them particularly difficult to clean up.

More than 15 years ago, the former LILCO manufactured gas plant (MGP) across the street from the Waldbaum’s site was declared a toxic site in need of remediation.

A 2003 report, prepared by the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, which owns Waldbaum’s, said that there were “contaminants consistent with coal, coal tar or products and wastes from coal gasification plants” under the supermarket site.

At that time, more than eight years ago, the DEC said, “We have identified the problems, though are not sure that they are a problem of migration from the site. More likely, they are part of the landfill that was put there when the land was built up for the construction of the supermarket mall.”

At the end of May of this year, however, the DEC said that it would soon start a “Remedial Investigation Work Plan” that proposes to investigate the soil and groundwater contamination surrounding the site.”

The agency added that, “Past operations on the site resulted in the release of chlorinated solvents to the environment.

This investigation will identify the sources of the contamination, to determine the nature and extent of the contamination on site, and to determine the impact on human health and the environment.”

To reach those goals, the DEC will install several groundwater monitoring wells throughout the site, install soil vapor sampling points, install soil borings, and sample both the soil vapor and the groundwater.

Officials familiar with the site say that there is little chance that the chlorinated solventshave leached through the concrete slab under the supermarket and the other stores, which include a bank, a dry cleaners, a pizza shop and an unused store that was once a large pharmacy.

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