Educating community to comment on Superfund remediation plan
By Kassondra Gonzalez
The Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund held a public forum in late June informing the community of subterranean harmful substances in northwest Greenpoint beneath Nuhart Plastics Superfund site at 49 Dupont Street. At the forum Neighbors Allied for Good Growth presented this factory “made vinyl siding, sheet metal, foam rubber, and asbestos sheeting.”
“Right now, it’s still in flux,” said NAG organizer, Ryan Kuonen, about the clean-up effort. “There is a 60-day comment period once the state announces the recommended remediation plan. The developer does testing and hands in their ideas to the state. The state puts forward what they will do and the public gets to comment. They have postponed the announcement due to summer vacation until sometime in September, so the 60-day period will be when everyone is active. We haven’t seen the plan at all yet.”
“An old shuttered industrial factory on the corner of Dupont and Franklin where an estimated 60,000 gallons of toxic chemicals are hidden,” is how the GCEF forum described NuHart Plastics to the forum’s audience of about 60-70 people. Trichloroethylene and phthalates are among the substances found in the site’s soil and groundwater — GCEF explained these come with major health hazards such as birth defects, learning and behavioral problems, and asthma. In 2010 the site was listed as a Class 2 Superfund (defined as a significant threat to human health and the environment that calls for action).
“The typical risk exposure comes through chemicals mixing with water and releasing into gaseous forms to be inhaled in,” said Ryan Kuonen. She also touched on the prevalence of the chemicals in everyday life. “These are chemicals that are in normal household products, so we risk exposure all of the time. This is why the responses need to be very measured because it is the reality of this chemical world we live in.”
According to GCEF forum speaker and board member of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, Mike Schade, a physical barrier is being considered as a clean-up effort to help stop free product of phthalates from moving in the direction of groundwater flow to off-site areas. The Feasibility Study Report Draft prepared by FPM Engineering Group said that the physical barrier will stop migration of the product but will not help in removal of the source. The Feasibility Study Report also states that the proposal of the physical barrier will be retained for consideration in combination with removal measures as well as the monitoring of data to assess changes. Other proposals that will be retained stated by the FPM Engineering Group include a chemical treatment as well as extraction and disposal.
As stated by Ryan Kuonen, the best way for the community to get involved as of now is to be educated on the matter. “It’s really attending the meetings, reading the documents, getting informed on the issue and writing a letter,” Kuonen said. “We’re really trying to get people educated so that they can make good comments to the state. We need the state to know that we’re paying attention and that we understand the issue.”
The Final Feasibility Study report is expected to be reviewed for release in early fall 2016.