Ronhill Cleaners left Forest Ave. 20 years ago, but the task of clearing toxic chemicals from the location's soil continues.
The dry cleaner operated at the corner of Forest ave. and Bryce Ave. between 1963 and 1993, during which time it improperly disposed of tetrachloroethene (PCE), a dry cleaning chemical, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The agency installed a groundwater monitoring well on-site, behind the Payless ShoeSource that now occupies the building. The area behind that is residential.
The site is classified as Class 2 in the State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites, which "represents a significant threat to public health or the environment; action is required," according to a DEC document describing the project.
The document states that the site is approximately 1,200 feet southwest of a public supply well, with groundwater approximately 80 feet underground and flowing away from the well.
The DEC did not indicate there is any immediate threat, though Mayor Ralph Suozzi said the City is "concerned because it's there."
The current phase is mainly one of study, meant to determine the current nature of the contamination and its perimeter. In the meantime, a soil vapor extraction system is in place to remove contaminants.
Efforts to address the problem date back to 1990, when an Environmental Assessment was done. A preliminary site assessment was completed five years later, and the responsible party paid for a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) in 2001. The DEC conducted a second RI in 2005, focusing on the "delineation of the off-site contamination," the agency said. A Remedial Investigation work plan was approved in April 2008 to continue to monitor the chemicals' movement through the soil.
The current work phase will continue for several weeks, the DEC said. A plan of action will be developed once enough information has been collected.
"Another possibility is that the information collected during the site investigation may support the conclusion that no action, or no further action, is needed to address site-related contamination," according to the agency document.
Suozzi welcomed the progress.
"We're glad they're continuing their work," he said. "They're monitoring it and they're acting on it."