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DEC Moving Forward With Photocircuits Cleanup

Contamination is hazardous, but risk is contained at site, agency reports.

After sitting for years with contamination incurred during Glen Cove's manufacturing past, and months of interruption to due Hurricane Sandy, two Superfund sites facing each other across Sea Cliff Ave. have a plan for cleanup, said Department of Environmental Conservation officials at City Hall Thursday.

Both are listed as Class 2, a "significant threat to public health or the environment" requiring action, in the State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites.

Sharon McLelland, a public health specialist with the NYS Department of Health, said exposure to the contamination requires direct contact. She said there is no risk of air or water pollution exposure to the public as the contaminants are not airborn and city residents get water from a public water system and not the Carney Street wells that are located nearby.

The most contaminated area is the front of the Pall site at 30 Sea Cliff Ave., which occupies a total of 4.6 acres on the north side of Sea Cliff Ave. and is bordered by Glen Cove Creek to the west. The site also includes the August Thomsen property at 36 Sea Cliff Ave.

Storage tanks containing volatile organic compounds (VOC's) had been located at the front of the Pall property, where filtration products used to be made. Solvents were stored in the tanks.

"The obvious hypothesis is the tanks sprung a leak at some time," said Joseph Jones, DEC project manager for the sites.

"Deep groundwater" below is the main public health concern, said McLelland. Groundwater flows northward at the location, with descending levels of contamination as that flow is followed. She said exposure concerns are that the entire area is not fenced off, and that when the groundwater rises, contaminated water can flow out of the wells.

No specific timeline was provided, but the main Pall building is slated for demolition and was recently boarded up so that asbestos could be removed.

Another concern mentioned was the Glen Cove Day Care Center, located to the north but out of range of the current contamination plume. Mayor Ralph Suozzi said other locations are being considered for that facility, which is not owned by the City and has served as the Head Start program building. Its grounds have been monitored carefully, said Suozzi.

"I don't like the location, but having said that, you can't just move it," Suozzi said. He mentioned the former Coles School as a possibility. 

Suozzi said the cleanup is a move toward a productive future for the sites as well as a detoxed environment, giving certainty to the mortgage holders who want to sell or lease the property.

The DEC will accept written comments about the proposed plan through March 14. Comments can be submitted to Jones at jgjones@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

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Eileen Coles March 05, 2013 at 01:14 AM
The possibility that the creek which runs through the middle of the site has breached the basement wall in the main Photocircuits building is very real. Given the way the site was abruptly abandoned, it is very likely that there were chemicals being stored in that basement, which local residents know has been flooded repeatedly over the last several years. If the remediation does not address this root cause then it will drag on for at least a decade. I salute Ralph Suozzi and his team for their hard work dealing with this issue, and I have the utmost confidence in his ability to assist in finding an eventual buyer for the site after it is cleaned up. However I believe there still needs to be a means for concerned citizens to hold the current mortgage holder for Photocircuits responsible for dealing with the necessary demolition of the two badly contaminated and dangerous buildings on the easternmost side of the property. I am the one who got fences put up around the site after writing a letter to our beloved Mayor, who listened and got them to do properly secure the site, which they should have done in the first place. But that was a few years ago and I hear the site's security has become porous again. If the issue with the possibly breached, perennially flooded basement which might still be full of toxic chemicals is not dealt with, the site cleanup will drag on for years at a huge cost and prolonged health risk. Concerned citizens need to get involved.

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