The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has published a Record of Decision (ROD) for the former Munsey Cleaners site at 1029 Port Washington Boulevard. The site, located near the southeast corner of the Boulevard and Main Street and currently occupied by real estate broker Coldwell Banker, has a long and controversial history. The soil, indoor air, and groundwater were seriously contaminated with perchloroethylene (PCE), also known as tetrachloroethene (PERC). The result of exposure to these toxins, which are airborne, can range from dizziness and fatigue to damage to the nervous and/or reproductive systems, liver and/or kidney damage, cancer, and other major health problems.
The selected remedy for the site is the same remedy that was presented during the public meeting held in Port on July 27, 2005. No changes were made in the plan, despite the fact that at the public meeting many community residents, environmentalists and experts raised serious questions about the adequacy of the proposed remediation. Specifically, they raised concerns about the failure to address the off-site effects of the contamination, especially its effects on the groundwater. A summary of the meeting and the comments raised were published in the Port Washington News on Aug. 11, 2005. A copy of the Record of Decision is available for examination in the reference room of the Port Washington Library or on the DEC website at http://www.dec.state.ny.us. The ROD contains an appendix that responds to some of the issues raised by the public.
Regarding the concern about off-site groundwater contamination, the DEC defended its decision to separate the on-site and off-site contamination (they call them "operable units or OUs.") on the basis that the off-site OU is more complicated because there are multiple responsible parties and requires more investigation. In response to a question about the timetable for this investigation and remediation, the DEC said, "We estimate that an off-site investigation will begin as early as possible." They added, "As a first step, indoor air sampling of the properties located over the groundwater plume will be conducted this winter."
In the "Responsiveness Summary," the DEC addressed a comment received from Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington (RFMBPW). The RFMBPW recommended the following three actions: (1) conduct indoor air sampling of residences located on top of the groundwater plume and abate and impact found to be a threat; (2) perform a follow-up investigation to determine the extent of PERC in soil vapor and ground to make sure that it is not spreading into other areas or contaminating public water supply wells; and (3) require the businesses responsible for the soil vapor and groundwater pollution to take full responsibility for costs of investigation and remediation. DEC responded, "We agree with all these actions." The DEC reiterated that they are making plans to sample for vapor intrusion this winter and that they will investigate groundwater contamination "as soon as possible." Regarding responsibility, they stated that, as of now, the responsible parties have taken complete responsibility for investigation and remediation at the site and that DEC will negotiate with the responsible parties regarding off-site investigation. The DEC reiterated their disagreement with RFMBPW's opposition to breaking the site into two separate operable units, and referred back to the responses given at the public meeting.
The main elements of the selected remedy for the site, which the DEC terms OU-1, are:
A soil management plan will be prepared to include sampling schedule, maintenance, and reporting;
* The Soils Vapor Extraction and sub-slap depressurization systems will be operated continuously and maintained periodically;
* Indoor air will be monitored on a quarterly basis for the first year and semiannually thereafter; and
* If it is determined from the review that additional measures are required, then those measures will be implemented.
According to the DEC, future activities include consent order negotiations with the responsible parties for OU-1 (on-site) and OU-2 (off-site and underground) to prepare a Site Management Plan for the former and to undertake necessary investigations for the latter.
As of our deadline, the Port News was not able to obtain a statement from the DEC or RFMBPW. Off-the-record conversations with some community residents who had attended the meeting, however, indicated general satisfaction with what had been done so far, but strong disappointment about DEC's failure to set a specific timetable to address the broader contamination issues.
For further information or to submit comments or questions, contact Mr. Vivek Nattanmai, P.E., Project Manager, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233; telephone 1-888-459-8667.