Pollution under Greenpoint? It’s worse

Pollution under Greenpoint? It’s worse
Department of Environmental Conservation

Northeast Greenpoint groundwater — now with more industrial dry-cleaning chemicals!

A state environmental agency revealed earlier this month that even more portions of the neighborhood are highly contaminated, and a site under the southeast corner of Norman and Kingsland avenues is the worst one yet.

“The concentration of perchloroethylene [a chemical used in dry cleaning] in the liquid sample collected was 73 million parts per billion,” said Maureen Wren, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “This is the equivalent of saying 73 percent pure product [in the groundwater].”

It’s the latest finding in a testing area — surrounded by Withers Street, Kingsland Avenue, Newtown Creek and Norman Avenue — that already has concentrations of two dangerous chemicals in the soil and groundwater.

The state started its investigation in 2008, and has since installed more than 110 newfangled soil testers, 110 groundwater monitors, and 63 gas wells to monitor the disgusting sludge.

State experts traced the contaminates back to former businesses in the area, including Spic and Span Cleaners, Klink Cosmo Cleaners, and current businesses ACME Metal Works and ACME Steel and Brass Foundry.

“ACME currently operates at multiple locations within the study area, but it is unknown at this time whether these businesses are still contributing to the contamination,” Wren said.

Now the agency will continue taking air and water samples at nearby residences to make sure locals aren’t in danger.

Mike Schade, a Greenpoint resident and coordinator at the Center for Health and Environmental Justice, said it’s probably too late for that because underground pollution can turn to vapor and affect people’s homes.

“The state estimated that [the newfound site] has been contaminating the groundwater there for 60 to 70 years!” he said. “Given the depth and type of soil, this will be a challenge to clean up.”

He said it’s likely that the state would foot the bill for the cleanup process, then “sue the companies in question to recoup the cost.”

Wren did not return a call for comment on that notion.

State inspectors believe that a former business at the corner of Kingsland and Norman avenues in Bushwick may have been partly responsible for two massive plumes of underground toxins.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan