On Friday, April 21 Barry Lamb, Bart DiTuro, Kyle Rabin and Tom Butler were at the site. An abandoned boat is lying on its side in the creek.
The Mill Neck Marina site has been identified by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as Class 2 in the state registry of sites where hazardous waste disposal has occurred, a Superfund site. The Classification Code 2 means that this site poses a significant threat to the environment or public health and action is required. The story of the Mill Neck Marina is a classic case of a project that slipped through the system created to prevent development from occurring on the contaminated site that borders the Mill Creek which is part of the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
The Mill Neck Marina site is under threat of development. In 2005 Harvey Weisman of Woodmere had asked for a Tidal Wetland Permit extension to build at least four single-family homes on the former Mill Neck Bay Marina property on Hernan Avenue in Locust Valley. Both the Town of Oyster Bay and Friends of the Bay asked that the request be denied and deferred "until the magnitude and implications of remediation became clearer."
The permit itself was a cause of concern since the decision to grant Mr. Weisman a 30 foot variance to install conventional septic systems 45 feet, instead of the 75 foot structural setback requirement, landward of the tidal wetlands line. Friends of the Bay Executive Director Kyle Rabin said in a letter to the DEC, "As we understand the matter, these septic systems: 1) will be located in an area with flowing groundwater from an in situ spring and 2) will not function properly given the constant flow of water. As a result, sewage from these septic systems will continually be carried into Mill Neck Creek."
The evidence now appears to be in place. Kelly A. Lewandowski, P.E. DEC Site Control Section chief said, "Past operations and disposals resulted in surface soil, sub-surface soil and groundwater contamination of this site. [It had been a boatyard and marina.] In various locations on-site both surface soil and sub-surface soil have been found to contain elevated levels of metals, including copper, mercury, arsenic, zinc and lead, and semi-volatile organic compounds. Elevated levels of metals have also been detected in groundwater at this site."
The DEC website included information about the site.
The 1.7 acre site has multiple owners of different parcels of what used to be designated as the Mill Neck Marina. They include Harvey Weisman of Woodmere; the SAAL Corp. of Mineola; OTS Associates of Port Washington; Saul Weinberger D/B/A East Arts of Woodmere.
The DEC describes site as, "A marina from at least as far back as the 1950s until abandonment in 2001. [A tax lien was put on the property by the county and purchased by a developer through an oversight since the property was also on a list of endangered sites and therefore should not have been sold.] The site is now vacant. The marina reportedly contained boat storage and maintenance areas, gasoline storage, and dispensing facilities. A Toxic Characteristic Leaching Process (TCLP) analysis conducted in only one location at the site found levels of lead which meet the definition for characteristic hazardous waste. In various locations both surface and subsurface soils have been found to contain elevated levels of metals, including copper, mercury, arsenic, zinc and lead. Metals have also impacted the groundwater. Five semi-volatile organic compounds were detected in the soils above recommended TAGM clean-up concentrations."
They believe that unknown quantities of lead, mercury and arsenic were disposed of at the site. "Lead was found at levels characteristic of hazardous waste by TCLP. Elevated levels of lead and mercury and arsenic have been found in the soils and the groundwater."
According to the DEC, "Significant exposures to contaminated soils are not likely to occur given the site's present use [abandoned]. Exposures to contaminated groundwater are also unlikely, as there are no supply wells at or downgradient of the site, and the area is served by a public water supply. An assessment of the surface water and sediments is needed. Additional investigations are needed to determine the potential for soil vapor intrusion into structures on or near the site."
Kim Chupa, DEC spokesperson said, "The DEC is currently in discussion with several of the owners to find the best method for investigating the site. DEC believes in the polluter-pay-principles of cleanup, and when a responsible party or a landowner is willing to work with DEC to remediate a site, the state provides monitoring and oversight of cleanup activities. If the owners are unwilling or unable to clean up a site and it presents a threat to public health and the environment, the site cleanup could be undertaken by DEC, with the state then pursuing cost recovery from the responsible party/land owners."
The DEC failed to mention a problem identified by local residents Bart DiTuro, Tom Butler and Barry Lamb on Friday, April 21 as they stood on the site - that streams of water come up from the ground of the Mill Creek Marina.
On Friday, April 21 Mr. Rabin and several local residents, were at the site. They were concerned about the pollution it holds and that it is leaching into Mill Creek. They pointed out a stream and ponds on the site. "Water flows out of the ground," said Mr. DiTuro. "The marshland has been under threat of development since about 2000, although it appears the developers have walked away from the problem." The site is now overgrown with spartina grass.
Some of the local residents, but not all, were informed of the new classification of the site. The local residents said a 90-year-old Andrew Place resident and an 88-year-old George Street resident received notices but several people bordering the Mill Neck Marina site did not receive the DEC's letter. The DEC noted in their letter, "If you currently are renting or leasing your property to someone else, please share this information with them. If you no longer own the property to which this letter was sent, please provide this information to the new owner and provide this office with the name and address of the new owner so that we can correct our records."
On Friday, Mr. Rabin gave a copy of the letter to a teen-ager who lives in a house next to the site, who said his mother had not received one and said she would like to read it.
Contamination in the Mill Creek area is the reason the Oyster Bay Wildlife Refuge was recently put on its endangered list. Kyle Rabin, executive director of Friends of the Bay said, "One of the main reasons the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge was listed among the 2005's 10 most endangered refuges in the country was because of the degraded condition of the water in Mill Neck Creek which is interconnected with the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor estuary. FOB is hopeful that the town and county will work together this year to address the sewage problem associated with the Continental Villa housing development and the contamination from the newly listed superfund site, Mill Neck Marina"
The DEC has been focused on contamination coming from The Birches since 1981. The sewage outfall from The Birches is several hundred feet from the Mill Creek Marina, now identified as a Superfund site.
The Mill Creek Marina has been suggested for the Town of Oyster Bay SEA Fund I and II bond projects. A town spokesperson said, "The site is presently not under consideration."
Friends of the Bay have been urging town and state officials to work together to get this property cleaned up. Mr. Rabin said, "If the developer has to pay for the cleanup they need to be sure it will be done right. The developer will be paying for the cost analysis of the contamination at the site. The public should have a say in who does the analysis on the contamination. We don't want a developer doing it on the cheap with wrong information on what should be done to remediate the land. It should be preserved as open space. It is unsuitable for development."