2012-03-16 / Top Stories

Remedy Proposed For Far Rockaway MPG Site

By Miriam Rosenberg


Project manager William Ports, center, goes over some of the diagrams to answer questions from a resident after the meeting. Photos by Miriam Rosenberg Project manager William Ports, center, goes over some of the diagrams to answer questions from a resident after the meeting. Photos by Miriam Rosenberg A remedial investigation on a former manufactured gas plant site in Far Rockaway has been completed and a remedy for its cleanup proposed, The Wave learned at a meeting earlier this month.

On March 6, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation hosted a public meeting to explain to residents and local leaders the results of the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study, including the proposal to cleanup the MPG site located between 1200 and 1224 Brunswick Avenue.

“The remedial investigation went through several phases between 2007 and 2010,” said William Ports, the project manager. He added, “Practically 103 environmental samples were taken at this site.”

While no soil vapor of “any concern” was discovered at the site, the analysis showed that Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylene (BTEX) and Naphthalene compounds were the prevalent contaminants detected in the groundwater.

“The majority of the contaminants are around where the tank was,” said Ports. “It is dissolving into the groundwater off site and we’re also seeing some staining [on the nearby] railroad tracks.”

Groundwater impact is limited to a portion of the adjacent parking lot at 1250 Brunswick Avenue, the Long Island Rail Road property, and two commercial sites at 1211 and 1263 Redfern Avenue immediately downgradient from the site.

Out of four alternatives drawn up by the DEC, the remedy proposed at the meeting would include removing soil down to 15 feet for off-site disposal and replacing it with clean material to be covered with new asphalt; and if necessary an oxygen injection in the subsurface to treat impacted groundwater and develop a site management plan to include institutional controls to address soil and groundwater impacts beyond the initial cleanup phase.

The total cost of the project would be slightly more than $6 million and the work would be paid for and done by National Grid. They will also be respon- sible for the monitoring of the groundwater, the average annual cost of which would be $120,000.

Stephanie Selmer, a public health specialist from the New York State Department of Health assured the few residents who did show up at the meeting that they were in no danger from the MPG site.

Selmer said that drinking water will not be affected since “your source of drinking water is upstate. You’re not drinking any groundwater that is contaminated from this site.”

She said a plan would be in place to test the air for any dust or particles.

“There are specific levels that if they even approach those they need to shut down or pause,” she said.

Selmer also said that since the contaminants are below the ground, residents living in the area have not been in any danger over the years.

Unlike the MPG site on Beach 108 Street, the Brunswick Avenue site is small, and once work begins it should be completed in a couple of months.

“Clearly it is nothing like Beach 108 Street in regards to pollutants. It is smaller, isolated and it barely made the criteria for cleanup,” said Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14. “We have to wait and see the final plan. … We’ve talked with some residents after the meeting and so far they are OK with it.”

The Far Rockaway MGP site was operated by the Hempstead Gas and Electric Light Company from the late 1800s until approximately 1909. Operations were transferred to the Queensborough Gas and Electric Company in 1909 and then to the Long Island Lighting Company when they bought Queensborough in 1923. The plant was decommissioned between 1950 and 1981 and used as office space by LILCO. Private parties currently own the three two-story buildings and parking lots which are used as office space and warehousing. In 2002, a Preliminary Site Assessment determined the presence of MGP materials in soils and groundwater from its prior use.

The public comment period runs from February 21 through March 22. People can mail written comments to William Ports, NYSDEC Project Manager, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233.

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