2012-11-30 / Top Stories

Air Quality Tests,Garbage Burning On Deck

Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder is asking for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New York City Department of Health (DOH) to perform daily air and water quality tests throughout Rockaway and southern Queens and to make the results public.

“Southern Queens and Rockaway were wiped out by Superstorm Sandy, and local families are just beginning to pick up the pieces to rebuild their lives and businesses,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “It’s imperative that we know whether our air and water sources are safe and that they don’t pose any health risks to our community. That’s why I’m urging the NYC DEP and the NYC DOH to take immediate action and run daily tests to ensure the safety of our families and community.”

According to Goldfeder, residents have expressed concern regarding the harmful side effects associated with leaking sewage that resulted from damaged water treatment plants and the growth of mold as a result of the storm surge as well as dust and other air pollutants from the demolition and cleanup efforts.

“We’re moving forward as a community and we will rebuild together, but the quality of the air and water – and any potential dangers lurking there – must be factored into our rebuilding efforts,” Goldfeder said. “The safety and health of our families must not be overlooked.”

In related news, Goldfeder was informed this week that the city has begun a pilot wood burning operation for storm debris.

“If you hear of some smoke, coming from Floyd Bennett field tomorrow, visible in the western Rockaways, it’s possibly related to a controlled burn being conducted by an Army Corps of Engineers contractor who is combusting trees and wood debris from the storm,” Goldfeder said in a letter.

The mechanism that burns the garbage is called an “air curtain burner,” a dumpster-sized device into which the debris is fed. A blower system blows a layer of air over the top of the burner which increases the temperature, thereby combusting more material and more compounds that might otherwise escape uncombusted into the air.

Small particulate matter and emissions will be monitored, both at Floyd Bennett, in the Rockaways and in Canarsie.

The City DEP has been monitoring over the weekend, prior to the burn, to establish baseline levels. They are working with DEC, EPA, Corps, FEMA and others so a variety of regulators and government agencies are involved, Goldfeder said.

“I obviously still have a lot of questions about what this may do to our air quality and air testing in general,” Goldfeder concluded but vowed to get answers regarding air quality from both garbage burning and general air quality throughout the area.

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