The New York Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing an application from Coland Realty LLC that would incorporate a section of the Far Rockaway Long Island Railroad line that includes the Inwood station, into the state’s Brownfield Cleanup Program.
The New York State Department of Conservation is investigating the site. The program application was submitted on Oct. 10, and the public comment period ends on Nov. 9. The goal of the Brownfield Cleanup Program is to encourage private-sector cleanups and the promotion of redevelopment through tax incentives.
According to the DEC, the primary contaminant of concern is mercury, which originated from the rectifiers that were on Redfern Avenue at the Queens borders and powered the Inwood station until 1979. “This type of contamination is something that is common at various LIRR owned properties,” said DEC spokesman Bill Fonda.
Sites that are ineligible for the state cleanup program are any property where a contaminant is present at levels that classify the land as a significant threat to public health. These lots are known as Class 1 or 2 sites, additionally other sites prohibited from joining the program are those on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s national priorities list; are hazardous waste treatment, storage, or disposal facilities that are still owned by the party that is responsible for the pollution; sites subject to a cleanup order under Article 12 of the state’s Navigation Law that addresses oil spill prevention, control and compensation, or under Title 10 of New York’s Environmental Conservation Law Article 17 that regulates the control of petroleum in bulk storage; or sites subject to any on-going state or federal enforcement actions regarding solid/hazardous waste or petroleum.
Passing these qualifiers is the first step towards cleaning up the mercury. “If the application is deemed eligible, the DEC and the applicant will enter into a Brownfield Cleanup Agreement, which will provide for the investigation and cleanup of the site,” DEC spokeswoman Aphrodite Montalvo wrote in an email. “Once the agreement is executed, the applicant will submit a work plan to investigate and clean up the site (Remedial Investigation Work Plan). The work plan will fully delineate the nature and extent of contamination at the site. Prior to the start of work at the site, the public will have the opportunity to review and comment on the work plan.”
Montalvo added that the DEC and the state’s Department of Health will implement measures to protect AND minimize the effect the work has on local businesses, residents and commuters, including monitoring the air for dust vapors and odors.
While waiting for the train, Diana Soto, of Inwood, expressed her concern about the contamination. “It’s pretty scary knowing it’s right here by the train tracks,” she said. “I hope they take care of it quickly, I know being around mercury isn’t good for you.”
To comment contact the site Project Manager Tara Rutland at NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-7015; firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 402-9621. All comments must be submitted by Nov. 9.