Toxic guck to be removed from proposed Queensway route in Ozone Park

A couple of the Queens newspapers — Queens Courier and Queens Chronicle – have reported this week on the planned cleanup of a toxic material left behind from the previous industrial usage of an area that is home to eight storage bays situated beneath the former Ozone Park LIRR station. At a community board meeting exchanges between residents and CB9 officials, it seems, got kinda heated when residents expressed numerous safety concerns that — based on the reporting we read — will likely cause the projects planners to go back to the drawing board.

storage bays under the LIRR ozone park station
Photos courtesy of Forgotten NY

In addition to being the subject of this toxic cleanup story, the Ozone Park LIRR station has been in the news for its part in the proposed Queensway, an elevated park built upon decommissioned railroad tracks. The linear park’s route would run directly above the contaminated area in question.

At their last meeting, CB 9 residents reportedly aired concerned over how the residual TCE (Trichloroethylene) would be removed. TCE is used in cleaning solvents, paint thinner and pepper spray. The current owners of the land, End Zone Industries, who hope to clean up the toxic mess left by the previous owner of the property, gave a presentation on their plans to remediate the site.

From the Queens Chronicle:

A local business owner — whose attempt to speak during the presentation resulted in a shouting match between him and CB 9’s new chairman Jim Cocovillo — alleged a cover-up by End Zone and suggested TCE contamination beyond the site, including under PS 65, a public elementary school a block away.

Residents are fearful of the chance that the carcinogenic chemical could be released into the air while workers are removing the soil identified as contaminated.  End Zone reportedly has promised that air quality monitors will alert workers to toxic belches into the air. But not all are convinced that’s enough.

The Queens Courier reports:

…board member Etienne David Adorno said he was worried that the monitors would only alert officials, not do anything to prevent or clean up. So if there’s a contaminant released into the air, then all it tells us is ‘Hey, a contaminant was just released into the air,’” he said.

“So it doesn’t really do us any good once it’s in the air.”

End Zone also plans for a complicated system of pipes to draw contaminated air out from the soil to filter it, and then plumb it back underground.

See page 15 for details of where the Queensway would pass over this site.

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Teachers Consider Boycott Amid PS 65 Chem Test [Forest Hills Times]
Contaminated Education? Toxic Schools And the Leasing Loophole [The Brooklyn Rail]