DEC: Inground Chemicals At Bulova Site Pose No Threat
“Given the data we have now, people are not being contaminated,” Daniel C. Walsh of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC told a meeting in Jackson Heights last week. The meeting was the second in the past two months to address the question of chemical contamination at the Bulova Corporate Center on Astoria Boulevard.
At the site, for a period of about three decades, from the 1950s to the 1980s, the Bulova Corporation, a watch manufacturer, stored various petroleum and chemical products in several storage tanks. These tanks were located underground, in the parking lot behind the Bulova building at 75-20 Astoria Blvd. Bulova closed its business there in 1981. La Guardia Associates bought the site in 1985 and removed the tanks the following year. The site was reopened as the Bulova Corporate Center, and in the 1990s both Bulova and La Guardia Associates financed an investigation of site contamination, acting under the New York State Voluntary Cleanup Program. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has conducted tests there since 1996. Tests have evidently determined that the site contains a manageable hazard. That has allowed Walsh to make his reassuring statement to residents of the neighborhood near the site.
Contamination was found to be “in one place and deep,” according to Vadim Brevdo, DEC engineer who conducted last week’s meeting with Walsh and Dawn Hettrich of the state Department of Health (DOH). The one place of which he spoke is the spot in the parking lot where the old tanks were in place. His observation is more than an assumption and has been arrived at after considerable testing, not only throughout the parking lot, but also in the building, on the grounds and in several homes nearby.
The neighborhood’s residents are worried, as they should be, hearing of possible contamination at a nearby business or industrial site, particularly when it may involve storage of contaminants lasting years. The DEC explained the case of the Bulova site by saying that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were detected in limited areas below the parking lot, where there was little or no possibility of human contact. In the Bulova Corporate Center building itself, DEC and DOH testers have determined that VOCs in soil vapor have not been entering the building through the concrete slab floor, and that the air quality within and just outside the building is at a level considered normal in most areas throughout the state supporting flows of human traffic. Results from samplings made in homes along 25th Avenue and 77th Street showed that chemicals have not been migrating there from soil vapor.
Walsh told his audience that the DEC plans to undertake an in situ (in place) remedy, pumping oxidizing chemicals into the contaminated area to break down the contamination. He said that at present, DEC is in the remedy design phase. The remedy will be applied in the fall.