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Waldbaums ‘Superfund’ Site

Ask pretty much anyone in the Farmingdale community about the biggest eyesore in the area, and most likely, they will reply with a single, solitary word: Waldbaums. 

 

The spot those residents would be referring to, of course, is the former Waldbaums Shopping center located on Main Street. With its boarded-up windows and gutted storefronts, the strip mall—currently without an owner and completely vacant for some time, except for a Chinese take-out restaurant that is currently squatting—has many locals crying foul over its dilapidated appearance. However, the real issue lies, not in what people can see, but what they cannot. 

 

Among the stores that had previously called the Waldbaums Shopping Center home, the Farmingdale Plaza Cleaners, unfortunately left its mark on the community in the form of an underground toxic plume containing tetrachloroethene, or PCE, which is a colorless liquid used in dry cleaning. Although the establishment has been gone for some time now, as a result of the inaction by the dry cleaner's former owners to do anything about the ground contamination, the Walbaums Shopping Center has been classified as a

"Superfund" site and is now under the jurisdiction of a United States federal law designed to clean up sites contaminated with hazardous substances using governement funds. 

 

On March 11, the Village of Farmingdale held a public hearing with the New York State Department of Environmental Conversation to present a proposed plan to clean-up the Waldbaums site. According to Bill Fonda, a citizen participation specialist with the state

DEC, public opinion on the proposed clean-up plan is encouraged and will be taken into consideration until March 24, meanwhile the DEC will make its final decision before April 1. 

 

“If approved, we will contact contractors and consultants to evaluate the site and design a plan,” Fonda said. “That process usually takes up to a year to complete, at which time we will break ground and begin to pump out the contaminants.”

 

NYSDEC’s Chek Beng Ng gave an overview of the history of Farmingdale Plaza Cleaners at the Waldbaums site, which opened its doors once the shopping center was constructed in 1983, and when United States Environmental Protection Agency testing was

conducted in 2000 it was discovered that there was a significant amount of tetrachloroethene in the soil and groundwater in the area, and that the dry cleaners was the likely source, Ng said, although the pollution was most probably inadvertent and unintentional.

 

“In 2002, the site was listed as a Class 2 site on the New York State DEC Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites,” he said. “In 2005, the potentially responsible parties failed to sign an Order of Consent and the site was referred to the State Superfund for Remedial Investigation.”

 

Ng pointed out that the contamination in the area is in no way affecting the drinking water of Farmingdale residents; the trajectory of the toxic plume does not place it near any drinking water wells, he said. 

 

Bridget Callaghan Boyd, of the New York State Department of Health, held a brief presentation at the meeting that concurred with Ng’s safety estimation.

 

“Contact with contaminated soil or groundwater is not likely,” she said. “The contamination is located at a depth below concrete or building foundations, and the area is served by public water that originated away from the site.” 

 

However, the plume continues to slowly spread, and to do something about it once and for all, Ng unveiled several potential strategies that the NYSDEC has considered, and the one that they had finally decided on to combat it. 

 

“The remedial alternative we are proposing is modified pump and treat with long-term monitoring, which will cost approximately $1,631,000,” he said. “We will design and install a groundwater extraction system, place extraction wells at the leading edge of the

highest PCE concentration, treat the extracted water with granular-activated carbon filters, and monitor the area for five years afterward.”

 

In the meantime, since any entity that purchases the property will be forced to take on a portion of the cost of cleaning up the groundwater contamination, it is likely that the Waldbaums Shopping Center will remain vacant until such time as the clean-up is completed; the exact timetable for that, according to NYSDEC representatives at the meeting, is uncertain until they actually break ground and see first-hand what they’re dealing with.

 

Anyone wishing to weigh-in on the NYSDEC’s proposed plan to clean-up the Farmingdale Waldbaums site contamination, can email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

News

It’s been more than 50 years since the Farmingdale High School class of 1964 roamed the halls of their beloved high school, but that doesn’t mean that the memories have faded. The class—the first to graduate from Farmingdale High—came together on Saturday, October 18 at the Marriott in Islandia to celebrate all of the good times past and make new memories as a class.  

Despite the national media attention about Ebola in recent weeks, there is one virus that is actually affecting Long Islanders, Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), with one of the first cases identified in North Hempstead on Sept. 18 and a recent case on Oct. 15 in Suffolk County, which school officials called for the closing of school, as a health precaution. 

 

In Farmingdale, school district officials have been vigilant in their efforts to combat the virus. 


Sports

3rd Grade Division

The Giants and Jets met for the 2nd time this season, with the Giants again getting the victory over the Jets.  Jalen Gordon scored late into the 1st half for the Giants, which turned out to be the only points in the half.  The Giants shut the Jets down for both halves, keeping the offense off the board.  The Jets strong point this weekend was the defense, with Kyle June and Jake Kuller picking up the weekly William June Foundation awards.  In what is turning into a rough offensive season for the Jets, these awards continue to remind the boys of the perseverance and determination of the award’s namesake and his “never say quit” attitude.

 

—Submitted by Paul Caputo


William Merola, a member of the Farmingdale School District’s wrestling program, was recently selected to attend the third annual U.S. Marine Corps Summer Leadership and

Character Development program, which is limited to 150 sophomores and juniors throughout the nation.

 

Over the summer, from July 20-26, Merola attended the third annual Marine Corps recruiting command summer leadership and character academy at the USMC base in Quantico. 

 

The SLCDA (Summer Leadership and Character Development Program) educates high school leaders about Marine Corps Officer Programs by participating in classroom academics, ethics training, accelerated college prep, physical fitness training, a field exercise, a community service component and a field trip to Washington, D.C.


Calendar

Networking Event - October 29

Halloween Parade - October 31

Holiday Craft and Vendor Fair - November 2


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com