The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a formal Remedial Investigation (RI) presentation to provide community members with an opportunity to learn about the OU-2 (off-site) RI for the former Unisys site to be remediated by Lockheed Martin and its team.
The format of the meeting, held at Great Neck South High School, was a presentation first with posters in the lobby depicting various views of the site. The meeting was then moved into the auditorium and computer slides were presented by Nick Valkenburg, of Arcadis Geraghty & Miller followed by a three-dimensional state-of-the-art visualization by Doug Smolensky also of Arcadis Geraghty & Miller, geological consultants for Lockheed Martin.
Concerned members of the New Hyde Park community were front and center at the Lockheed Remedial Investigation Public Information Meeting held at Great Neck South High School last week. They are: James McHugh, Katherine Seyfried, Marianna Wohlgemuth and Marietta DiCamillo.
It was explained that during this phase of the meeting there was no provision for a question and answer period and all in attendance were urged at the end of the presentation to meet with representatives of either the DEC, Lockheed, Arcadis Geraghty & Miller, or the New York State Department of Health to ask any specific questions they might have.
First it was explained emphatically that no community has been exposed to any of the chemicals that have seeped into the groundwater. People working on the site are not exposed and residents and businesses offsite are not exposed.
Further, the drinking water in the community is absolutely safe. Some public supply wells have been affected by the offsite plume but they have received treatment. Otherwise the public supply wells are not at all contaminated.
A brief moment was taken out to explain various terms: The first is groundwater-the primary route by which the chemicals from the Unisys site migrated offsite.
Groundwater is water that defers to the subsurface. It gets there as a result of rainfall and snow melt and accumulates in large quantities. It was pointed out that all of the water on Long Island is supplied by a natural aquifer fed by groundwater and that Long Island is "blessed" to have large quantities of groundwater that flows through the aquifer and supplies its drinking water.
The next term explained was an acquirer. Groundwater routes through the aquifer which is a rock formation or a formation of sand and gravel through which the groundwater flows in a certain direction and velocity.
The final term explained is plume which is a body of groundwater that has been contaminated by chemicals exceeding the drinking water standards. They usually have three-dimensional shapes and they migrate in the direction of the groundwater flow and generally dissipate a good distance away from the source. He then said an analogy would be smoke leaving a smokestack that moves in the direction of the wind. It too has a three-dimensional shape and dissipates away from the source. The difference is groundwater flow does not change unless something is done mechanically, like pumping, to change that direction.
The geologists explained they have learned exactly where the plume is located. It has been mapped and they know how far it has moved and how deeply it has migrated. Essentially it has gone down to the bottom of the Magathy Aquifer but it has not penetrated the Lloyd Aquifer and that acquifer, which is the main acquifer for this area, has been found to be clean.
He explained that the former companies that occupied the building manufactured electronic components and those components had to be cleaned in a bath containing volatile organic chemicals. After that process the waste went into dry wells on the southeast corner of the building. Dry wells are constructed by digging a hole about 30 feet deep and filling it with gravel and then the water went into the dry wells. After the water went into the dry well it soaked down into the ground water system at a depth of about 100 feet.
It was also explained that during the investigation many people wanted to know how such a small area could cause damage to such a large area. It was thought that this happened because the companies occupying the site ran an air conditioning system that was pumping into wells on Marcus Avenue, pumping through the building and back into the diffusion wells. It was a completely closed system and therefore no one was exposed to any of the chemicals, that at the time no one knew were there, but with the constant re-circulation the contamination spread and even spread a small amount to the south even though the normal direction of water flow is to the north
After the meeting Marietta DeCamillo, of New Hyde Park, addressed the air-conditioning system theory with one of the heads of the DEC because she said that until now an air conditioning unit was never mentioned as a source of expanding the plume. Her point was that because The DEC does not know how far south the plume is traveling she wanted more monitoring wells installed south of the site. As of now there is only one well south of the site and that is in the Sears parking lot.
However, the DEC representative explained that water naturally flows to the north and that is the way that most of the plume is going. If the DEC is given permission to install wells on a site currently owned by a water company that problem will be immediately rectified because it will remediate the problem by forcing the flow of the water to those well where it will be remediated.
However, negotiations with the water company are not as yet finalized and Di Camillo said she was not satisfied and pointed out that new wells should be constructed south of the site.
When the contamination was discovered Unisys was the occupant and they were requested by the DEC to follow the remedial process both for OU-2 and OU-1 and the process of OU-1 is now completed.
The following work is being carried out to remediate OU-2 by Lockheed including:
* Installing nine new monitoring wells in the area just north of the Northern State Parkway.
* Conduct an inventory of supply and monitoring wells within 1.5 miles of the site.
* Sample or obtain current data for approximately 90 monitoring, public supply or irrigation wells in the area north and west of the site. The wells were screened in the Upper Glacial, Magathy and Lloyd Aquifers and were specifically selected to provide a horizontal and vertical definition of the VOC plume.
* Conduct new comprehensive computer modeling to determine how the VOC plume would migrate.
* Use the monitoring and modeling results to prepare a risk assessment that evaluates the risk to human health.
The education session at the Great Neck South High School helped to prepare community members for the FS and Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP) the next steps in the OU-2 remediation process. The presentation of the OU-2 PARP expected in late summer of 2001 will include a public meeting and comment period.
In the meantime, residents will keep on top of this process as many of them are members of the environmental committee formed to monitor the cleanup of this site.
Documents pertaining to this property may be found at the Hillside Library, 1950 Hillside Avenue, New Hyde Park and at the Parkville Branch Library, 10 Campbell Street, New Hyde Park or at the New York State DEC Hazardous Waste Remediation Unit, SUNY Building NO. 40, Stony Brook, New York. The phone number at the DEC is (631) 444-0240.
History of the Former Unisys Property
The 94-acre property and buildings were originally owned by the United States Government and operated under contract by Sperry Gyroscope Company from 1941 through 1951.
In 1951 the property was sold to Sperry, which merged with Burroughs in 1986 to form Unisys Corporation.
In 1995 Loral Corporation acquired the assets of Unisys Defense Systems, a division of Unisys Corporation.
In early 1996 Lockheed Martin purchased the electronics and systems integration businesses of Loral and elected to close down the Great Neck facilities in 1998.
In 2000, i.park Village Development Company acquired the site with plans to lease the existing buildings to tenants. The environmental remediation efforts continue to be Lockheed Martin's responsibility. The site has been placed on the DEC's Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites due to the presence of contaminants in the subsurface soil and groundwater.
During the plant's 57-year history, the facility was used to manufacture a wide range of defense-related products. Post operations included casting, etching, degreasing, plating, painting, machining and assembly.
From the late 1970s through the early 1980s several remedial actions were conducted at the Unisys site.
These actions include the Department of Health's investigation of the dry wells (underground waste disposal areas) at the southeast corner of the facility. The dry wells had been used to dispose of rinse waters containing cleaners and degreasers used during manufacturing operations. As a result of the health department's investigation, the lines leading to the dry wells were sealed and the liquids within the wells were pumped out to prevent further migration of contaminants. Other remedial actions taken include the removal of several above-grade and underground storage tanks.
Between 1988 and 1992, Unisys Corporation conducted a large-scale subsurface environmental investigation in which the nature and extent of on-site soil and groundwater contamination were evaluated.
In 1991 Unisys signed an Administrative Order of Consent with the DEC requiring interim remedial measures for on-site soil and groundwater and completion of a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS).
While the RI/FS process was under way Unisys/Loral built and operated two interim remedial systems. A soil vapor extraction (SVE) system removed volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the soils surrounding the dry wells, and a groundwater treatment system removed VOCs from the groundwater.
In 1995, the DEC created two remedial projects (Operable Units) at the site. Operable Unit I (OU-1) addresses the remediation of soil and groundwater within the 94-acre facility.
Operable Unit 2 (OU-2) addresses the investigation and remediation contaminated groundwater that is beyond the facility boundary. The DEC issued the record of decision (ROD) that defines the remedies for OU-1 on March 31, 1997.
In the fall of 2000, construction activities began on the OU-1 groundwater treatment system that is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2001.