Get lost in the DEC’s Online Remediation Database

by Heather Van De Mark on

The Department of Conservation is adding almost 2,000 remedial sites, which include Brownfield Cleanup programs and State superfund sites, to their online database. Most of these sites are classified as P, PR, and N* and were not online previously “because, by the nature of these sites, the information is often preliminary, incomplete, or not verified.” Why did they decide to add these sites? “To help address the rising number of requests from the public for information about possible environmental contamination on properties across New York State.” Yeah, power to the people!

Why does a site get placed on the Registry?
A site must pass two basic conditions: 1.) there must be evidence that hazardous waste was disposed on the site, and 2.) the existence of hazardous waste on the site must create an existing or reasonably foreseeable significant threat to public health or the environment.

What sites exist in our neighborhood?
I thought it would be fun (and informative) to see what sites came up for North Brooklyn. A search of Kings County resulted in 234 records. When I entered Greenpoint as the City, I got 3 results, see below. Any emphasis on the description below is mine.

1. 49 Dupont Street
Brownfield Cleanup Program, 2.8 acres, Classification N*

“The plasticizers bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate anddi-n-octylphthalate, as well as #4 fuel oil have been found in groundwater (both as non-aqueous phase liquid and in the dissolved phase) and in soil. From 1983 to 2004 NuHart & Company (the tenant) manufactured vinyl siding and sheeting at the factory.

After manufacturing ceased in 2004, environmental investigations were performed. The investigations identified soil and groundwater contamination consisting of liquid plasticizers and petroleum. The amount of each material that was released is unknown. Soil concentrations as high as 20,000,000 ppb of bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate were detected in soil boring SB-44. Non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) was found at thicknesses of up to 5 feet in one well. A large plume of plasticizer NAPL was identified under the western end of the factory where the plasticizer USTs were located. This plume had migrated off-site in a northwesterly direction. A small plume of mostly #4 oil NAPL was identified under the northeast corner of the factory and had migrated a shorty distance off site.

The environmental remediation which followed involved cleaning the floors of the factory, cleaning out the underground storage tanks, cleaning all sumps and pipe gallery wells, installing monitoring wells, and installing NAPL collection wells and equipment.

The NAPL plumes have now been reduced in size and consist of three separate plumes. All of the plumes are contained under the sidewalks bounding the factory and under the footprint of the building. The smallest plume is under the northeast corner of the site. The former large plume under the western end of the factory is now two separate plumes (according to the November 26, 2008 gauging event) and consist solely of plasticizers. The thickness of the NAPL ranges from 0.16 feet to 1.38 feet.

Product collection from these two plumes is continuing and, as of December 2008, has recovered a total of 8,356 gallons of NAPL.”

2. 155 West Street
Brownfield Cleanup Program, 2.8 acres, Classification A: Assigned to a non-registry site in any remedial program where work is underway and not yet complete.

“Nature and Extent of Contamination: Subsurface Soil: Metals were detected in all soil samples analyzed from the 47 boring locations across the site. In many samples, metals were present above the Track 1 Unrestricted Soil Cleanup Objectives (SCOs) and Track 2 Restricted Residential SCOs. Arsenic was found in seven samples, all above Track 1 and Track 2 SCOs. No “hotspots” were apparent. Concentrations ranged from 16.6 mg/Kg to 49.3 mg/Kg. Barium was only found above Track 2 in three samples. Copper was found to exceed Track 1 in twenty six (26) samples. Of these twenty six samples, two samples exceeded Track 2. One sample had 25,300 mg/Kg of copper, compared to the Track 2 SCO is 270 mg/Kg. The high concentration of copper in this sample, WS-G5, is an isolated result. Samples from boring locations near WS-G5 are below the Track 2 SCO and above Track 1 SCO. Lead was detected above the Track 1 SCO in thirty six (36) samples. Of those 36 samples, sixteen (16) of them contained lead concentrations that exceeded the Track 2 SCO of 400 mg/Kg. The highest concentration of lead detected was 3,190 mg/Kg, in sample WS-G5, the same sample that had a high concentration of copper. Mercury was detected above the Track 1 SCO in twenty six (26) samples. Ten of those samples were detected above the Track 2 SCO of 0.81 mg/Kg. Zinc was detected above the Track 1 SCO of 109 mg/Kg in twenty six (26) samples. No samples exceeded the Track 2 SCO of 10,000 mg/Kg. The highest concentration was seen in sample WS-G5, 9,830 mg/Kg, though it did not exceed the Track 2 SCO. VOCs were detected in twenty five (25) samples above the Track 1 SCOs but all were below Track 2 SCOs. SVOCs were detected in fifteen (15) samples above the Track 1 SCOs. Of these 15 samples, fourteen (14) were detected above the Track 2 SCO. Sixteen end point samples were analyzed. The end point samples were collected from the bottom of borings in the silty clay native material below the fill at depths ranging from 20 to 30 feet below grade. End point samples were collected to assess soil that will remain following the remedial construction. Both alternatives proposed for the site call for removal of approximately 20 feet below the proposed building. Results include the discovery of metals in two endpoint samples in the northwest region of the property outside of the proposed building footprint.. The concentration of metals in these two samples exceeded Track 1 and Track 2 SCOs. The following metals were identified to exceed Track 1 and/or Track 2 limits: arsenic; copper; lead; mercury; nickel; and zinc. These metals were present at high elevations in samples A1 at twenty (20) feet, and B2 at twenty five (25) feet below ground surface (bgs). These two samples also exceeded the Track 1 Residential Restricted SCOs for various metals. Sample A1 (20’) contained the following metals at concentrations above Track 1 and/or Track 2 limits: lead (132 mg/Kg), mercury (0.28 mg/Kg), nickel (31.1 mg/Kg), and zinc (113 mg/Kg). Sample B2 (25’) contained the following metals at concentrations above Track 1 and/or Track 2 limits: arsenic (18.2 mg/Kg), copper (76.4 mg/Kg), lead (270 mg/Kg), mercury (1.25 mg/Kg), nickel (29.2 mg/Kg), and zinc (185 mg/Kg). No Volatile or Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs and SVOCs), PCBs, or pesticides/herbicides were found above Track 1 SCOs for any end point soil samples.

Groundwater: Groundwater samples were collected from four groundwater monitoring wells installed on site. Several metals exceeded groundwater standards for each of the groundwater samples. The metals exceeding these standards and their corresponding standards are: aluminum (0.1 mg/l), iron (0.3 mg/l), lead (0.025 mg/l), magnesium (35 mg/l), manganese (0.457 mg/l), and sodium (20 mg/l). Groundwater sample MW-101 had aluminum (2.02 mg/l), iron (7.49 mg/l), manganese (5.12 mg/l), and sodium (158 mg/l) present above standard. Groundwater sample MW-102 had aluminum (0.417 mg/l), iron (10.4 mg/l), and sodium (130 mg/l) present above standard. Groundwater sample MW-103 had iron (1.31 mg/l), lead (0.278 mg/l), magnesium (834 mg/l), and sodium (7,740 mg/l) present above standard. Groundwater sample MW-104 had magnesium (291 mg/l), manganese (0.457 mg/l) and sodium (2,210 mg/l) present above standard. Only one sample had any VOCs detected above the detection limit of the analytical method, but this concentration was lower than the standard of 10 µg/l. Sample MW-102 had 1.6 µg/l methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE)which is likely due to an up gradient spill site. SVOCs were not detected above the detection limit of the analytical method.

Special Resources Impacted/Threatened: The site borders the East River, but no significant impacts have been identified. Significant Threat: The site does not pose a a significant environmental threat. Elevated metals in the soil are common in urban fill, and the groundwater has not been impacted.”

3. 269 Freeman Street
State Superfund Program, 1.2 acres, Classification: N*

“The site is covered with multiple buildings and parking facilities. One small area of the site contains a dirt construction yard that is largely underlain by a concrete slab. The shallow subsurface soil is comprised of historic fill that contains building debris such as brick and concrete, ash, and soil. This material contains elevated concentrations of inorganics that are generally below allowable concentrations at industrial sites. SVOCs are also present in the soil at the site but also do not exceed standards for industrial areas. No VOCs were detected at levels that cause concern. Data from TCLP analyses were all below hazardous waste thresholds. Groundwater is sporadically impacted by PCE and breakdown products. There is no continuous plume of impacted groundwater as would be observed if a source of PCE was present.”

I recommend you give the site a visit, Environmental Site Remediation Database Search, and see for yourself. I found the best way to search–so you don’t get too many or too few results–is to search by street name. For example: of the 234 records for Kings County, there are 26 listed for Kent Avenue.

Happy digging, and let us know what you find in the comments.

*Sites are given a classification of “N” when:

  • the investigation and evaluation of a Class P site results in a determination that contamination at the site does not warrant placing the site on the Registry or it is being addressed under a brownfield program;
  • a site was in a brownfield program (BCP, ERP or VCP) or other non-Registry program, remediation was not completed, and the site did not otherwise qualify for listing on the Registry. As an example, this occurs when a volunteer begins a brownfield project and then for economic or other reasons, determines they cannot complete the work and the brownfield project is terminated. If the contamination at the brownfield site qualifies it for placement on the Registry, the Department acts to do so. If the site re-enters a brownfield program, it can be reclassified to Class A (active) to indicate that work has recommenced;
  • a site was identified simply as the location(s) where a drum(s) or other discrete waste was at one time present and subsequently removed by DEC or others and, based on the resulting conditions, no need for additional work was apparent; or
  • an application to the BCP, ERP or VCP was submitted, and was then withdrawn or terminated before any actions were taken to investigate or remediate the site.

DEC offers this information with the caution that the amount of information provided for Class N sites is highly variable, not necessarily based on any DEC investigation, sometimes of unknown origin, and sometimes is many years old. Due to the preliminary nature of this information, significant conclusions or decisions should not be based solely upon this summary.

Heather Van De Mark

Heather Van De Mark

Heather is a designer/writer specializing in non-profit organizations and social causes. Originally from central NY, Heather settled into the charming Greenpoint neighborhood in 2011. While most of her community activism takes place from behind a computer screen, Heather can often be found at CB1 meetings, the McCarren Park track and any of the parks along the waterfront.

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