Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Soil Cleanup in Ozone Park Sparks Worries by Clare Trapasso - NY Daily News

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IT’S TIME for a deep clean — at a cost of about $1.5 million.

The state is hatching a plan to remove polluted soil from eight storage bays beneath an abandoned Ozone Park railroad track, where hazardous chemicals were once kept.

The cleanup, across the street from 101-32 101st St., is expected to start sometime this fall, state officials said. It is to be completed by the summer of 2011.
But some local leaders have raised concerns about the project. Community Board 9 is scheduled to vote on whether to support it at the board’s monthly meeting next Tuesday.

“If people are exposed to these chemicals over a long period of time, there can be an impact to their health,” said Bob Cozzy, an environmental engineer at the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“These are chemicals that easily evaporate, and because of that, they have a tendency to go from the soil into the air.”

The chemicals were used by aircraft parts manufacturer Ozone Industries, and stored in bays across the street from Ozone’s factory.

The facility was sold in 1998, and the contaminated bays were declared a state Superfund site in 2003, state officials said.

The state plans to oversee the cleanup, which will involve removing about 2 feet of soil. The remaining contaminants are to be sucked out of the ground with a vacuum-like machine that will draw the chemicals out of the earth via a series of perforated underground pipes, Cozzy explained.

Groundwater contamination also will be monitored. It was 260 parts per billion the last time it was measured for carcinogens in August 2006, state officials said.

They expect that number has gone down, although there should be no more than five parts per billion, Cozzy said.

The cleanup is to be paid for by Endzone, Inc., which was created by Ozone Industries to handle the cleanup, said Ted Coyle, the corporation’s health, safety and environmental director.

Kubeer Sewkaran, owner of the custom-made cabinet company RK Design, located in one of the contaminated storage bays, has his own worries.

“There’s nothing wrong with the place,” said Sewkaran, who has to move his business out this month. “I’m going to close down the business because I can’t afford to rent another place.”

But he conceded, “They have to do what they have to do.”